"Deluxe Combo Platter" is a romantic comedy as stale and forgettable as its fast-food title. Though writer Brigitte Talevski and director Vic Sarin's familiar tale of a homely girl pining for the affection of the local heartthrob will no doubt curry favor with a certain segment of the chick-flick audience, this "Platter" still seems likeliest to be served up outside its native Canada on the small screen.

From its freeze-dried small-town atmosphere to its deep-fried cliches, “Deluxe Combo Platter” is a romantic comedy as stale and forgettable as its fast-food title. Though writer Brigitte Talevski and director Vic Sarin’s familiar tale of a homely girl pining for the affection of the local heartthrob will no doubt curry favor with a certain segment of the chick-flick audience, this “Platter” still seems likeliest to be served up outside its native Canada on the small screen.

Eve Stuckley (Marla Sokoloff) spends her days waiting tables at her family’s diner in untouched-by-time Squamish, British Columbia, while daydreaming of being accepted to a New York City art school. She fantasizes about hunky Jeff Sweeney (Barry Watson), the former high-school quarterback who’s best friends with Eve’s older brother, Chuck (Jonathan Cherry). Jeff is oblivious to Eve’s constant flirtation. Eve, meanwhile, sees herself as unattractive and overweight (even though she really isn’t).

Enter into this already sticky situation beautiful and mysterious Linda (former supermodel Monika Schnarre), who’s blown into Squamish on unspecified business, but whose curvaceousphysique quickly draws in Jeff and Chuck. As the two friends battle for Linda’s affections, there’s just one catch: Linda seems uninterested in both of them, preferring to spend her time getting to know Eve.

Among the fundamental problems of “Deluxe Combo Platter” is the way it strives to convince us that Eve’s infatuation with Jeff is genuine (and not just some byproduct of her provincial environs), yet rarely presents Jeff as anything more than a testosterone-heavy, beer-guzzling lunkhead.There’s a business reason Linda has come to Squamish and to Eve, other than, predictably, her revealing she’s a lesbian.

In fact, pic is so monotonously predictable you can just about set your watch by it, with the exception of Jennifer Tilly’s enjoyably sassy, kiss-my-grits waitress, which enlivens pic whenever she’s on screen. (Even if this is, by now, something of a typecast role for the actress.)

Schnarre likewise makes an impression, conveying an intriguing blend of sultriness and smarts that recalls the young Lauren Hutton, despite being saddled with an unplayable role.

Sarin, who works as his own d.p., captures some lovely exterior shots depicting the change of seasons in Vancouver, where pic was lensed, though many interiors have the flat, overlit look of a sitcom. Other tech credits are undistinguished.

Deluxe Combo Platter

Canada

Production

An Equinoxe Films release (in Canada) presented in association with Liberty Intl. Entertainment of a Sepia Films production. (International sales: Equinoxe Films, Montreal.) Produced by Tina Pehme. Executive producers, Andrew Lanter, Vic Sarin. Co-producer, Kim Roberts. Directed by Vic Sarin. Screenplay, Brigitte Talevski.

Crew

Camera (Alpha Cine color), Sarin; editor, Lenka Svab; music, Daryl Bennett; music supervisor, Matt Safran; production designer, Carmi Gallo; costume designer, Sheila White; sound, Lars E. Ekstrom; assistant director, Stacy Fish. Reviewed at Vancouver Film Festival (Canadian Images), Oct. 4, 2004. Running time: 102 MIN.

With

Marla Sokoloff, Jennifer Tilly, Monika Schnarre, Dave Thomas, Jonathan Cherry, Marnie Alton, Barry Watson
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