X’s and O’s (2007)
Clayne Crawford, Judy Marte, Warren Christie, Sarah Wright, John Wynn, Lynn Chen. Written and directed by Kedar Korte.
I think one of the reasons I responded so positively to Ride Along 2 is that I’d seen so many indie films immediately before it that big-budget lighting, sound, editing, and cinematography, were a shock to my system. I’d forgotten how good a movie could look and sound. Even with mediocre content, the packaging was so nice, I was pleased just to experience it with likable actors. I wouldn’t say that Kevin Hart is necessarily a better actor than anyone in X’s and O’s or its ilk, but I imagine the actors in the Hollywood film had more rehearsal time and as many takes as needed to satisfy the director’s vision.
This is not to say that X’s and O’s is technically bad, but boy, is it noticeably indie.
Simon is crazy about Jane, but Jane has him friend-zoned so completely that when they say good night after dinner and drinks, she embraces him, kisses him right next to his mouth, and licks him a few times before they separate. His roomie Lorenzo doesn’t have this problem: he’s waking up next to a different woman every morning, although it seems the one he really wants is an ex who wants nothing to do with him. Meanwhile, one of their friends has a girlfriend but treats her like property while driving everyone crazy with exaggerated, faux hip-hop speech and mannerisms.
Simon has friend-zoned a fellow graduate student named Trese, who looks a lot like young Jennifer Lopez, which is interesting because Simon looks like young Ray Liotta. Trese is hung up on Simon, but she’s got a few issues of her own, mostly in the way men treat women in romantic relationships.
This is a lot of characters to juggle, and the script mostly handles it well. The problem with this film is that its semi-interesting characters don’t find enough interesting stuff to talk about or do, then they turn out not to be interesting either, and not very likable. Add an element that I find tiresome (slam poetry), and some strange stuff in a Christian dorm, and the whole thing is just kind of a dreary, annoying slog. If my power had gone out before it was done, I’m not sure I would have cared, and the only thing that kept me mildly engaged is the prettiness of the actresses.
Unless you’re trying to do what I’m doing (seeing everything Lynn Chen is in), take a pass on this one.