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Rum and Coke

A romantic comedy that could be a lot fizzier and more intoxicating, Amerindie "Rum and Coke" finds some pleasant moments but zero originality in its by-the-numbers Career Girl Finds, Fights, Surrenders to Love scenario. Despite lightweight musings on Cuban-American identity issues, this is pretty much straight-up Doris Day stuff that (like the not-dissimilar recent "24 Hour Woman") feels at least three decades out of touch. Cable and rental sales, especially to Spanish-speaking markets, look more apt than theatrical.

With:
Linda DeLeon ..... Diana Marquis Jose Hernandez ..... Juan Carlos Hernandez Steve Banner ..... Christopher Marazzo Calvin Witherspoon ..... Kevin A. King Norma Gonzalez ..... Jacqueline Torres Carmen DeLeon ..... Rosa Nino Tia Rosa ..... Susana Crisan Tony DeLeon ..... Angelino Chabarier Ken Anderson ..... Eric Leffler Brian Thomas ..... James Brill

A romantic comedy that could be a lot fizzier and more intoxicating, Amerindie “Rum and Coke” finds some pleasant moments but zero originality in its by-the-numbers Career Girl Finds, Fights, Surrenders to Love scenario. Despite lightweight musings on Cuban-American identity issues, this is pretty much straight-up Doris Day stuff that (like the not-dissimilar recent “24 Hour Woman”) feels at least three decades out of touch. Cable and rental sales, especially to Spanish-speaking markets, look more apt than theatrical.

Linda DeLeon (Diana Marquis) is a no-time-for-monkey-business young NYC TV producer whose “work comes first” arrangement with her WASPy live-in photog b.f. , Steve (Christopher Marazzo), doesn’t exactly encourage candlelit romance. Abandoned by her philandering pa as a child, she figures all Latino men to be macho players — a notion challenged by suave, sweet firefighter Jose (Juan Carlos Hernandez). With Steve out of town, she resists him — well, not so hard — while battling two stereotypically crass execs’ attempts to hijack her syndicated chatshow with “Jerry Springer”-type program ideas like “Midget Prostitutes.” Eventually she’s dragged kicking and screaming toward a mellowed embrace of her Cuban-American heritage, saving her romantic and professional integrity en route.

Formulaic progress springs no surprises, though Jacqueline Torres and Kevin A. King strike some comic sparks as Linda’s peppery mantrap best friend and the sassy gay host of her show. Otherwise, most support perfs hit a broad note. Leads are attractive and personable, though Marquis (from TV soap “Another World”) is called upon to act snippily “independent” past the point of cuteness. Unencumbered thus, Hernandez (HBO’s “Oz”) is charming.

Fair low-budget tech package lets the pace ebb, with too many major scenes held in long, dull master shots; sitcom tenor is underlined by flatly overlit interior scenes. Soundtrack gets a boost from John Escobedo’s salsa score.

Rum and Coke

Production: A Rum and Coke presentation of an Escobedo/Gherardi production. Produced by Charles Gherardi. Co-producer, Dick Fisher. Directed, written, edited by Maria Escobedo.

Crew: Camera (color), Dick Fisher; music, John Escobedo; costume designer, Malika A. Simmons; sound editor, Doug Roberts; associate producers, A. Francis Scaringi, Susan Kouguell, Jay Hostetler; assistant director, Jason V. Rossi; casting, Sharon Chantiles, Jeffrey Vigneault. Reviewed at Cinequest San Jose Film Festival, Feb. 25, 2000. Running time: 97 MIN.

With: Linda DeLeon ..... Diana Marquis Jose Hernandez ..... Juan Carlos Hernandez Steve Banner ..... Christopher Marazzo Calvin Witherspoon ..... Kevin A. King Norma Gonzalez ..... Jacqueline Torres Carmen DeLeon ..... Rosa Nino Tia Rosa ..... Susana Crisan Tony DeLeon ..... Angelino Chabarier Ken Anderson ..... Eric Leffler Brian Thomas ..... James Brill

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