' ' Cinema Romantico: Falling Up

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Falling Up

"What makes you think I wasn't reading the Wall Street page? Oh, I know, because I'm the uneducated doorman." - Seinfeld

"Why on earth would you want to date a doorman?" - Falling Up

The plight of the doorman seems rather unrepresented on film and on TV and perhaps this is because the very idea of the doorman at residential buildings somehow seems old-fashioned. Doesn't it? And perhaps that explains why David Rosenthal's "Falling Up" (2009) feels so old-fashioned. You could simply remove the cellphones and the internet and insert a young Henry Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck and off you'd go. A class warfare rom com centered around a poor doorman and a wealthy tenent, "Falling Up" is several New York City blocks away from perfect but it is also infinitely more elegant and good-hearted than most of the rest of '09's fleet of rom com crap which makes it a great shame that it somehow went direct to video despite a noteworthy cast.

When his father passes away and it is discovered his life insurance policy was rendered null by the cause of his death (handball) young Henry O'Shea (Joseph Cross) puts on hold his studies to be a male nurse and follows the lead of his Uncle (Gordon Clapp, whose appearance is all too brief) and applies to be a doorman at a posh high rise in Manhattan. He is hired but his fidgety boss George (Joe Pantoliano) makes the ground rules quite clear - including, but not limited to, no fraternization with the tenets. Which, of course, makes it improbably problematic that the first tenent he encounters is the gargantuanly graceful Scarlett Downing (Sarah Roemer), daughter to some seriously rich folks, and saddled with a lug of a boyfriend who, of course, she would never ever, not in a million years, have, but never mind.

Henry takes the night shift and is shown the ropes by the eccentric Raul (the Calvin Broadus, which is how he is billed, and, I must say, he is not a bad actor - oh, I'm reasonably certain he doesn't have range but he does well what he is supposed to do here) and before long, through a series of fortuitous events, implementing his training, Henry saves the life of Scarlett's lug of a boyfriend and Scarlett gives him a hug of thanks in full view of George and George threatens that the next time this happens Henry is getting kicked to the curb but Henry sees her on the sly anyway and Scarlett's dastardly mother (Mimi Rogers), much to her affluent disgust, discovers the whole affair and Henry gets kicked to the curb but it matters not at all because, by God, the audience learns that enormous offshore bank accounts mean diddly squat in the face of true love.

Yes, yes, yes, you've seen it before. I know. You don't have to tell me. Cripes. Fine, fine, on a couple occasions it does regress into the lowest common denominator-type comedy, such as a horrifically terrible - but thankfully brief - passage in an adult emporium that employs crude slo-mo. Okay, okay, Joseph Cross has fairly low wattage for the lead (imagine, say, James Franco here) and yeah, yeah, Scarlett Downing is a simple two dimensional drawing but Sarah Roemer is just so....so....beautiful. Not hot, all right, but beautiful. Big difference. She's an old school beauty and she fights back against her character's lack of depth with all she's got. Sure, sure, the execution in the third act is a little rough - like why in the world is the Running To Get The Girl scene at some snobbish restaurant and not at the apartment building so Henry can enlist the aid of Raul to thwart George and so on and so forth but....oh, just stop complaining, damn it. This reviewer has had enough of your bellyaching.

I sat through "Leap Year" and "Couples Retreat" and I saw the trailer for "The Bounty Hunter" which, believe me, was bad enough and I cannot speak for anyone else but I can speak for myself and I am tired of artificially enhanced romantic comedies with rust-proofing. "Falling Up" may not be a masterpiece but it is warm and it is accomodating and its heart is in the right place and that is a step in the right direction.

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