The Barenaked Archives – Imagine Me & You

From 2003 up until 2007, I was lucky enough to have “movie reviewer” as my job description. As such, I’ve built up a *lot* of reviews for just about every movie that came out during those years, as well as reviews of classic movies.

The Barenaked Archives are reviews that I did for two previous websites. Sadly, they are both gone, so this is now the only place online you can see these old columns.

Imagine Me & You posterRomantic comedies are a difficult genre to do well, if only because there have been so many of them nothing is really original anymore. You can only watch the same “boy meets girl, boy and girl are kept apart by some convenient plot device for 90 minutes, boy gets girl in the end and they get married to live happily ever after” story so many times before it just gets to feeling overdone and trite.

Imagine Me & You takes a slightly different spin on it. It starts with boy and girl getting married, but then girl meets another girl, girl really likes this other girl, girl goes through major identity crisis in realizing she may be a lesbian (or at least bisexual), and well, you get the picture.

Let’s just see if people get less angered by a light romantic comedy about British lesbians than a serious romantic drama about gay cowboys.

The main participants in this little love triangle are Rachel (Piper Perabo), the blushing bride, Hector (Matthew Goode), the groom, and Luce (Lena Headey), the florist who did the flowers for their wedding. Though Rachel initially tries to set Luce up with Hector’s womanizing best friend Coop (Darren Boyd), it doesn’t take her long to figure out that she would rather be with Luce.

It would be terribly easy to screw this up, but writer/director Ol Parker gives us characters who are three-dimensional people, not simple Hollywood romantic comedy caricatures. You sympathize with Rachel, Hector, and Luce equally, which gets you more emotionally invested in the film. No matter what happens here, a character you like is going to get hurt by it. Even Coop, who spends most of the film being the kind of guy that women hate, has moments where you see the kind of loyal friend that he is.

All of the actors do solid work in their roles, especially Matthew Goode, who up until now I knew only as “the love interest in Chasing Liberty.” Another standout is Anthony Head as Rachel’s father Ned, who, although he spends most of the movie mumbling things that don’t quite make any sense (“I love the smell of hot dogs in the morning. Smells like…hot dogs.”), is much more insightful than most of the others give him credit for.

The most entertaining parts are neither a) shown in the trailer nor b) excessively formulaic. They feel organic, like something that would actually happen. There is no mopey montage of the two lovers after they separate, which is reason for rejoicing in and of itself. And, despite the subject matter, no sex. Some discussion of it, of course, but the most you see from anybody is some making out.

Yes, some parts are predictable (especially the end…just once I’d like to watch a romantic comedy whose climax isn’t chasing somebody down at either a wedding or on their way to an airport), but you can’t have it all. The fact that it’s more original the most of its ilk is enough to warrant a viewing.

It won’t be winning any Oscars (obviously), but Imagine Me & You is surprisingly funny, and just may be the best date movie currently in theaters.

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