Like an improbable combination of "Slacker" and "You've Got Mail," Texas low-budgeter "What I Like About You" injects some genuine college-town eccentricity into what's at heart a conventional romantic comedy. Engagingly screwball, if essentially formulaic, smartly mounted 16mm pic will serve mainly as an industry calling card for appealing leads Marie Black (who co-wrote) and Ryan Wickerham and capable helmer Jeff Stolhand. Young-cinema fests, especially those aimed at college auds, should take a look.

Like an improbable combination of “Slacker” and “You’ve Got Mail,” Texas low-budgeter “What I Like About You” injects some genuine college-town eccentricity into what’s at heart a conventional romantic comedy. Engagingly screwball, if essentially formulaic, smartly mounted 16mm pic will serve mainly as an industry calling card for appealing leads Marie Black (who co-wrote) and Ryan Wickerham and capable helmer Jeff Stolhand. Young-cinema fests, especially those aimed at college auds, should take a look.

Austin-set tale kicks off when radio jokester Adam (Wickerham) gets canned from the local FM “morning zoo” show just as attractive bookstore owner Ollie (Black) discovers that her partner and b.f. (Ben Pascoe) is scheming to sell their literary oasis to a chain. Teaming up to rally the community at the same time they’re falling in love, Adam and Ollie seem like clean-cut sitcom exceptions to pic’s general rule, which favors oddballs of every stripe, including a hooded Unabomber imitator. With a dream sequence that features Oscar Wilde and Jane Austen, pic mixes collegiate and comedy-club yuks for a result that’s snappy and upbeat, if not always terribly original.

What I Like About You

Production

A Misery Loves Company Inc. presentation, in association with Hockeyrado Prods., of a Tony Hewett production. Produced by Hewett. Co-producers, Merle Bertrand, Jimmy Jongebloed. Directed by Jeff Stolhand. Screenplay, Marie Black, Scott Van Doviak. Camera (color, 16mm), William Ambrico; editors, Merle Bertrand, Stolhand; music, Mark David, William Tabanou; production designer, Mark Hanks; art director, Jimmy Jongebloed; costume designer, Allison Wait. Reviewed at South by Southwest Film Festival (Special Screenings), March 11, 2000. Running time: 90 MIN.With: Marie Black, Ryan Wickerham, Cameron Johnson, Ben Pascoe, Scott Von Doviak, Tim Curry.

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