Family life and growing pains weave a beautiful and sweet tale of love and longing in ‘Cha Cha Real Smooth’
The ‘coming of age’ movie is a well-travelled genre, with most of these experiences well documented on screen, from first loves to lifelong friendships, parental discourse right down to loss and death. But what happens after the teen part of your life story concludes? What if you don’t end up with the love of your life or the job of your dreams? How do you move on when what felt like the best time of your life is over?
‘Cha Cha Real Smooth’ is a romantic comedy written and directed by Cooper Raiff, who also plays the lead ‘Andrew’. This is the follow up to his 2020 critically acclaimed directorial debut ‘Shithouse‘ and he explores some of the same ideas and themes he broached in that film. This is only Cooper Raiff’s second movie but it’s safe to say he has produced another absolute gem. I’ve never been the biggest fan of romantic comedies. traditionally the ‘will they/wont they’ always felt too predictable and formulaic, so for a rom com to capture my imagination and hold my attention, it really must have that special something.
Andrew is a 22yr whose been drifting since graduation. Hes gone from being a popular young man with lots of friends to an aimless young adult, still living at home with his brother, mother and his stepdad Greg. He ends up reluctantly working for a fast-food chain, as he’s decided it’s the only way, he’ll make enough money to join his high school sweetheart in Barcelona. Despite his lack of direction and actual plans for his own future, he still manages to remain positive, full of life, energy, and smiles.
While attending a Bar Mitzvah with his younger brother, he discovers he has a talent for motivating the youngsters to dance, interact and have a great time. And thus, his career as a ‘Party starter’ begins. While at one of these parties, he comes across a mother and daughter who seem desperately in need of his party starting skills
Dakota Johnson plays ‘Dominio’, beautiful and alluring with an air of mystery around her. Her daughter Lola is autistic and regularly bullied and excluded by the other kids, so Domino always stays close to her. Andrew quickly makes a connection with Lola and then Domino and the three of them form a very tight bond. But to his dismay, Andrew soon discovers Domino has a fiancé and a very different plan for her life, but the attraction between them both is intense and undeniable.
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‘Cha Cha Real Smooth’ is a beautiful rom com full of interesting characters, funny moments, a cool soundtrack, and a love story with its own twist. The chemistry between Andrew and Domino is great and you find yourself wishing they get the chance to be together. It explores blended family issues with Andrew regularly locking horns with his stepdad Greg (Brad Garrett), his mother played by Leslie Mann has anxiety issues and his younger brother is just trying to figure out having his first kiss.
There is a lot going on here but despite that, the film never feels weighed down by the issues it presents, nor does it try to solve them all. At its core, it’s a film about love and the difficulties we can face finding our own way in the world. This is another great addition to the small but growing quality collection of films on Apple TV Plus and is one any rom com fan should really enjoy.
‘Cha Cha Real Smooth’ is out in cinemas on June 17th and streaming exclusively on Apple TV plus on the same day