As generic a romantic-comedy date pic as its title implies, “Dinner and a Movie” reps an inauspicious first fiction feature for writer-director Lisa Kors, who previously helmed the well-traveled nonfictioner “Shayna Maidels” and numerous studio-funded promo docus. Trite indie trades on stock Mars-vs.-Venus gender stereotypes; slick veneer will make it a passable time-killer for undiscriminating tube and cassette shoppers.
Katie (Marianne Hagan of TV’s “Ed”) is pushing 30, still living with her parents in the Berkshires and getting nowhere as an aspiring filmmaker. Pitching a project on Solzhenitsyn to the local PBS station, she instead gets hired by abrasive marketing exec Arlene (Barbara Gulan) to direct a fluffier, more ratings-friendly docu on modern dating.
Katie hires as cameraman old chum Spider (Mike Dooly), a shy dreamboat whose adoration she’s oblivious to. She’s less happy at first with Jed (Dave Gibbs), the macho lout chosen as series’ serial-dating “subject.” But latter turns into a New Age Sensitive Guy overnight once Katie mixes biz with horizontal pleasure. Needless to say, wacky complications ensue.
As written, Katie is less quirky-cute than sulky, shallow and annoying. Love vs. career hand-wringing, “feminist” ideas, etc., are all sitcomishly retro, while intended satire of broadcast biz lands way off-target. The late Paul Bartel is wasted in a last, uncharacteristically sugary role as protag’s patient dad.
Lensing does capture New England countryside in all its quaintness. Other tech aspects are smoothly handled, though editing can’t rescue contrived, charmless scenario from the odd blind narrative leap or three.
Blah Lilith Fair-style femme pop tunes (most by Dar Williams) provide an apt sonic backdrop.