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.