Tuesday, August 22, 2023

The List: Movie Review

Fun premise and delivers expected comedy.
Abby (Halston Sage) and Matt (Jonah Platt) are celebrating their engagement when in walks (fictional) celebrity Kenzie Scott. Matt and Abby’s formerly imagined celebrity free pass list becomes a reality officially written down and Matt is “free” to pursue the hot and famous movie star. The first part of The List mostly plays out as it would in real life complete with lies and jealousy and no actual freedom.   2023

Directed by: Melissa Miller Costanzo

Screenplay by: Rob Lederer, Steve Vitolo

Starring: Halston Sage, Christian Navarro

The second part of The List plays out exactly as you would expect for a movie about a jilted fiancĂ©e taking off to LA to pursue the other celebrities on her list. It’s a silly premise but the story also leaves room for a lot of potential comedy, and as expected eventually settles down into a typical romantic comedy.

Abby’s list contains 3 fictional celebrities plus Oscar Isaac and Nick Viall. There’s also a joke about Jack Black which I don’t think is meant to be a dig at Jack Black but it’s hard to read it any other way. Abby’s friend Chloe says that she needs more attainable celebrities on her list, so Abby adds Jack Black (umm, Jack Black is more attainable than Oscar Isaac? In what universe?) and then Chloe vetoes it, as if he’s somehow a bad choice. And then we’re introduced to three fictional celebrities who are all very famous and very weird.

The first on the list is semi-celebrity Nick Viall, former The Bachelor contestant, playing an entertaining and fair version of himself - a mostly perturbed guy trying to humour a clearly crazy girl hitting on him in front of his girlfriend. There’s enough comedy in the beginning to keep watching, and by the end there’s a couple romantic suitors to keep Abby’s love life interesting.

Overall, the cast is good. Christian Navarro co-stars as the non-celebrity who falls for Abby. Jake is a sweetheart being fairly obvious with his feelings for Abby, and while she’s not oblivious she also doesn’t know what her life has in store for her when she gets back to New York so she’s being non-committal and platonic with him. Meanwhile she still has celebrities she has to try and sleep with.

The celebrity plotlines coincide with what life is like for those on the bottom of the totem pole in Hollywood – PAs and awards show seat fillers. The jokes are little too expected and staid to be all that funny in this section. However there is a scene towards the end which is both unexpected and very funny and allows for the emotional connection which the movie has been needing to get Abby back down to Earth. The star of this scene is Will Peltz as fictional celebrity Avon. Peltz has been working steadily for the last ten years in mostly small roles, but I have quickly become very impressed. He was the only actor in Exploited who was able to make an impact, and he is really good here, funny in a very unexpected way and just brings something new and interesting to an otherwise over-the-top type of character.

The List has a fun premise and mostly delivers on the expected comedy. The more typical rom-com storyline doesn’t elevate the movie but there’s enough here to keep viewers engaged.