What They Say:
A tech whiz named True finally lands an investor for his matchmaking app. When True matches with a beautiful woman who doesn’t speak English, he travels to Mexico to prove his algorithm isn’t dysfunctional. To get the girl and close the deal of a lifetime, he must find a way to overcome the language barrier — and his own fears and insecurities.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I’m a sucker for romantic comedies in general and have been for a long time. Even more so the older I get and being single amid the pandemic. It’s one way to keep in touch with certain emotions and feelings that are unavailable otherwise. With” In Other Words,” debuting on HBO Max this weekend, it’s a film that looks to tick the familiar boxes but comes with a caveat that I’m going to allow it. When you film comes in with what looks like a $1m budget, I’m willing to give it some space. Sometimes creative folks can come from unexpected places and I like a film that plays across borders a bit here with it spending most of its time in Mexico.
The premise is familiar in that we’re introduced to the terribly awkward True Andrews, boy genius inventor of the Compatible app that will really make some space for itself in the dating app market. His long time friend Benny is managing the sale of this to the company Maximillion Woods owns, played by the only really name actor in the film with Chris Kattan. The two are working with their friend and lawyer Kiki to get all of this done and the sale is pretty much a guaranteed thing with how well it’s performing. True is just trying to iron out some of the details of the app because things can always be tweaked and he’s managed to discover through hands-on use that it has a major flaw. While out with his friends celebrating and trying out the app, he gets matched with Angelica, a beautiful woman who doesn’t speak a lick of English. Since the app doesn’t put any language qualifiers on it, True is more focused on that than that this attractive woman is interested in him. His kind of nerdy awkward self manages to make her smile a lot and it’s just nice to see them have a fun night out with her giving him her address.
Not that she thought he’d try and go and see her again since she’s down in Mexico and they mat in San Diego. But True is totally up for a drive and his friends are game for it for the moment because his energy is carrying them along a bit. This ends up delivering them to an expansive vineyard and culinary location that Angelica is being groomed to take over. It’s here that the group gets to know some of the goings-on that are happening, such as a culinary contest that will provide the winner a trip to Spain to study. It’s here that True, while trying to figure out how to woo Angelica in Spanish, meets Karina and her young daughter. It provides the romantic triangle element, which he doesn’t realize for a while, all while trying to navigate the language and culture. It’s amusing to watch the tech geek trying to get a tutor to teach him a few things before Angelica reminds him of the tech that can accomplish a lot of it – though better than how it is in reality so far. But it plays to the simplistic side of things that a lot of these films do and you kind of gloss over that.
The story works some back and forth pieces, such as a tough guy local who is in love with Angelica and discovering that Karina has a husband in America that’s being deported back to Mexico. You get Benny getting totally frustrated by being dragged around all of this by his longtime friend that he has the heel turn where he basically takes the app to sell himself in order to get rid of True. And considering how True is you can kind of understand it. He may be good at the tech stuff but he’s terrible at everything else. That said, Benny’s not great himself since he sees his friend chasing a dream that could be attained and he just wants to get back to San Diego, finish the deal, and get rich. Totally understandable but at the same time, it’s a few days and most things can be accomplished remotely. It just leaves a bad taste. Kiki, at least, is largely supportive and hangs around with True and almost seems like he’s on the path to finding love himself, but he’s a lawyer so he’s really just trying to find more work (and succeeding).
The cast and general production for this aren’t bad and it’s your standard 100-minute romcom. The trappings make for a nice change of pace and I like that the language barrier issue isn’t resolved with a handwave and continues to be one throughout the film, giving it a little something extra. Bryan McClure is a solid actor I’ve seen in a few other productions but he’s given a terrible character to try to bring to life here as it feels like it’s outdated already and it’s just a mishmash of awkward guy cliches. There’s not enough history for him as the character as presented to really make it work with past relationships. Edy Ganem as Karina does a great job and I’d definitely like to see more of her in the future as she’s engaging and charming throughout and Natasha Esca as Angelica does a really good job of bringing out a lot without knowing what she’s saying half the time because of how the translation works. She conveys a lot through her expressiveness and it really delivers well. Beyond that, most of the other characters don’t make much of an impression though Joe Nunez as Kiki was a lot of fun to watch and I kind of lied Enrique Castillo as Sabi, the wise old local who knows everything and everyone.
Sometimes even bad romcom is good romcom when you just need that something. “In Other Words” is toward the lower end of my rankings of such things overall even coming at a time when love is in the air. The project isn’t a bad one but I just found McClure to be either miscast as the lead here or playing a character that is poorly put together in how they tried to make him dorky but endearing, resulting in just awkward and cringeworthy. There are some good moments of connection to be had here with both women in his life but he’s simply given too much of a role as an excited puppy for it to really land properly. I definitely liked the location aspect of it and some of the supporting cast as well as enjoying the other leads. But it doesn’t get the heart moving anywhere near as much as it should.
Streamed By: HBO Max