Admittedly, the role of a middle-aged loser who has outlived his celebrity and relevance but still trades on cutesy adolescent angst is not much of a stretch for Steve Guttenberg. Pairing him with an attractive girl half his age in a sitcom-like platonic relationship headed straight for the sheets, though, borders on the delusional, particularly when the actor misses no opportunity to doff his shirt and flash his pumped-up pecs. Grotesquely straining to ridicule and validate its hero simultaneously, “A Novel Romance” will disappoint even Guttenberg diehards on its Nov. 11 bow at Gotham’s Quad.Writer-director Allie Dvorin casts Guttenberg (who also exec produced) as a superannuated adman-turned-novelist, the literary conceit adding tired self-deprecating narration and arch chapter titles to the romantic-comedy mix. He meets his g.f.-to-be (Milena Govich) via a double-date with their respective, remarkably unpleasant paramours — a brassy, venal bimbo (Shannon Elizabeth) for him, a callous, two-timing cokehead (Matthew Del Negro) for her. The script piles humiliation after humiliation on the hapless Guttenberg via a succession of smug one-percenters whose thoughtless arrogance makes Guttenberg’s old-fashioned social impotence look good.
An Entertainment One release of a Mega Films production in association with Studio 13. Produced by Morris S. Levy. Executive producers, Steve Guttenberg, Brian Stern, Gary Gumowitz, Nathan Hevrony, Peter Bongiorno, Andre Sassoon, Steve Kristel, Alan Kristel. Co-producers, Thomas Sullivan, Thomas Hanna. Directed, written by Allie Dvorin.
Camera (color, HD), Jon Miguel Delgado; editor, Glenn Conte; music Michelangelo Sosnowitz; production designer, Joseph Polacik. Reviewed at Quad Cinema, New York, Nov. 7, 2011. Running time: 92 MIN.
Steve Guttenberg, Milena Govich, Shannon Elizabeth, Jay O. Sanders, Matthew Del Negro, Doug E. Doug, Maddie Corman.