The folks involved in “Don’t Do It” should have heeded the title’s explicit warning, or at least held out for a sharper script. Despite a promising cast and a painstakingly hip veneer, reality has neither flavor nor bite in this addition to the Generation X minimalist gabfest canon. A spell in the colorless company of three whining L.A. couples, pic looks likely to saunter straight onto video racks.
Overly schematic setup has one member of each duo hedging about onward commitment as they secretly pine for their former flames.
Suzanna (Heather Graham) lobbies for heavier emotional dues from Dodger (James Le Gros). He carries a torch for Alicia (Sarah Trigger), who’s having trouble announcing her pregnancy to current partner Robert (James Marshall). He’s still hot for career-bent film student Michelle (Sheryl Lee), while she’s found script and sack material in pool hall dude Charles (Esai Morales), who in turn is still hankering after Suzanna.
The sextet’s romantic ramblings are embroidered to lightly humorous ends with two satellite strands involving a lovelorn airhead (Balthazar Getty) receiving counseling from his clueless buddy (Alexis Arquette), and goof-off cafe staffers (Elizabeth Barondes, Steven Brill) having phone sex while their customers scream for service.
The laboriously orchestrated finale transparently rigs an unexpected encounter among the three couples, in which they face up to the truth about their amorous allegiances.
The able-bodied acting corps takes a stab at making animated fare out of what’s basically inconsequential verbosity, but the script’s gaping chasm where something called character definition should be leaves them all floundering thanklessly.
After their astute work together in “Drugstore Cowboy,” the reteaming of Graham and Le Gros is especially dismal, saddled with easily the most irritating dialogue of the bunch. The Morales-Lee duo comes off slightly better, with a modicum of tension sewn in as he sweats out the wait for HIV test results.
Technically, the film is tidily executed in all departments. Hal Lindes’ easygoing music score is agreeably at odds with the overworked plot machinations on which it comments.