What Love Is

 
(i)

 

Graphic-yet-boring rom-com turns off teens and up.
  • Review Date: March 31, 2008
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 87 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Male and female characters are written to type. The men are by turns macho, uncommunicative, and jaded. The women are uber-sensitive, lovesick, or manipulative. There's also lots of homophobic rhetoric. Underneath it all, though, everyone supposedly has a soft side.

Violence

Sal talks about flashing his gun to threaten romantic rivals and actually shows his weapon off when intimidating someone.

Sex

Includes a gratuitous stripping scene in which random female characters gyrate around a pole, but no actual sex acts are portrayed. That said, there are very detailed discussions of oral sex technique and male genitalia, and lots of talk about male and female libido. Sample dialogue: "I could not get this man to go down on me if we were on the Titanic!"

Language

Profanity galore -- from the mild ("damn") to the oh-so-colorful ("f--k"). Women are called "bitches" and "hos," and men are "dicks."

Consumerism

Obvious product placements and non-sequitur mentions of brands like LensCrafters, Makers Mark whiskey, Hallmark, etc.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Lots. In the first few minutes, Tom downs two shots -- which is only the tip of the drinking iceberg. No drugs, but plenty of cigarette smoking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this mature romantic comedy is made up almost entirely of explicit conversations about sex and relationships. There are detailed analyses of sex acts, love-gone-wrong tales, and general complaints about couplehood. Women are referred to as "hos," men are sized up by their genitalia, and seductions are attempted. Though it aspires to confront stereotypes of men and women, the film winds up cementing them, which may be troubling even for older teens.

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What's the story?

Tom Riley (Cuba Gooding Jr.) stops off at a bar for "liquid courage" to fuel his Valentine's Day mission -- proposing to his girlfriend, Sara (Victoria Pratt). He needs it: When he gets home, he finds two packed suitcases, an empty closet, and a "Dear Tom" letter from Sara. Later, a phone call reveals that she'll be back to pick up the last of her things. When Tom's friends show up, they're met not with a jubilant, soon-to-be-married pal, but a defeated man awaiting his soon-to-be ex's return. And when a group of women arrive at Tom's house unannounced, complications ensue. Will they all pair up? Will Sara take Tom back? Does he want her back?

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

This romantic comedy isn't funny, or romantic. It fails to deliver on its premise -- it's supposed to be an exploration of the differences and, more important, the similarities between men and women. Tom and Sara aren't seen together until the end of the movie, so it's hard to care that they're breaking up. The cast lacks chemistry. Certain events are explained, not seen, as nearly everything unfolds at Tom's apartment.

Everyone talks too much and too fast. The dialogue sounds so scripted and unnatural that it feels more like a play. There's also plenty over-the-top performances. Matthew Lillard's Sal -- Tom's cynical friend who's down on love -- is a low-rent Vince Vaughn. Andrew Daly's Wayne, the posse's token gay guy, is a reprehensible caricature. The female characters are mere foils, one-dimensional counterparts to the (relatively) two-dimensional men. Only Gina Gershon as tough-cookie Rachel has substance, though not much. And Gooding, whose gift lies in his boundless charisma and likeability, is unconvincing. His role is too reined-in, his talent tamed.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how men and women are portrayed in this movie. What gender stereotypes does it reinforce? Does it undermine any? Are men and women really as different as the characters say they are? Or are they much more similar than they appear? If so, how? Can you think of any movies that have portrayed men, women, and relationships more accurately? You can also talk about what happens when a couple breaks up. Do men and women handle it differently? How? And what roles do friends play when a couple separates?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:March 23, 2007
DVD release date:March 31, 2008
Cast:Cuba Gooding Jr., Gina Gershon, Matthew Lillard
Director:Mars Callahan
Studio:Big Sky Motion Pictures
Genre:Comedy
Run time:87 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:pervasive language including graphic sexual dialogue, and some erotic dancing.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 10 years old April 9, 2008
 
Adult Written bymovieguru April 9, 2008
 

Matthew Lillard is Awesome in this movie!

The movies is fast paced and funny. Matthew Lillard plays a great part as a cocky homophobic kind of guy. The conversations are interesting and it keeps the movie flowing. This whole movie is shot in one location so it's kind of like an on-stage performance that keeps you laughing. I liked it. Great actors/actress's. Something different.
Adult Written byLucky777 April 9, 2008
 

This is a fast worded clever film

After seeing this clever and fast paced film it reminded me of films from the past. The dialogue driven "Glenngarry Glenn Ross"(1992) or "His Girl Friday"(1939)immediately come to mind when thinking of the pacing and impact from "What Love Is". Matthew Lillard is fantastic in the role of Sal and Cuba Gooding is quite good too. This is a film that will be appreciated when enough people see it and realize the power of the dialogue.

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