30 Days

The initial promise of a smart and quirky Big Apple love affair disintegrates into a distracted and confused buddython in "30 Days." Though shrewdly written and well acted, the ensembler squanders such irony-drenched, funny observations as the undefrosted freezer as fear-of-relationship metaphor (kicker to which comes after closing credits) in pursuit of post-slacker guy dynamics. Item is still a cut above most early-30s gabfests and could play well in urban situations, with smart vid life likely to follow.

With:
Jordan Trainer ..... Ben Shenkman Sarah Meyers ..... Arija Bareikis Mike Charles ..... Alexander Chaplin Tad Star ..... Bradley White Brad Drazin ..... Thomas McCarthy Lauren ..... Catherine Kellner Rick Trainer ..... Jerry Adler Barbara Trainer ..... Barbara Barrie Stacey ..... Arden Myrin Actor ..... Mark Feuerstein

The initial promise of a smart and quirky Big Apple love affair disintegrates into a distracted and confused buddython in “30 Days.” Though shrewdly written and well acted, the ensembler squanders such irony-drenched, funny observations as the undefrosted freezer as fear-of-relationship metaphor (kicker to which comes after closing credits) in pursuit of post-slacker guy dynamics. Item is still a cut above most early-30s gabfests and could play well in urban situations, with smart vid life likely to follow.

For first 20 minutes or so pic appears to set up a promising romance between Jordan Trainer (Ben Shenkman), who works at the liquor store run by his father, Rick (Jerry Adler), and has a finely honed fear of commitment, and Sarah Meyers (Arija Bareikis), a TV casting director new to the urban love waltz. But their budding courtship is fatally injured when his suggestion of a movie snowballs into an impetuous marriage proposal. Focus then shifts to the breezy dynamics and kibitzing among lifelong buddies Jordan, community cable ace Tad Star (Bradley White), perpetual student Mike (Alexander Chaplin) and upright citizen Brad (Thomas McCarthy) and their girlfriends as Brad announces his impending nuptials to Sarah’s best friend, Lauren (Catherine Kellner), in one month’s time.

Initial 20 minutes or so are terrific. Writer-director Aaron Harnick (who has written for Drew Carey and starred opposite Edie Falco in Eric Mendelsohn’s “Judy Berlin”), has a wry take on the panicky scramble for commitment and is best at picking through the detritus of contempo culture, liberally sprinkling his script with pointed opinions on such ephemera while satirizing the very idea of urban ensembles (“It’s so nice to have good-looking friends,” someone says acidly), keeping a lid on self-absorbed histrionics all the while.

Fresh-faced cast is up to the task, with Shenkman setting an affable tone that extends to the comfy work of pros Adler and Barbara Barrie, as Jordan’s mother. Yet problems arise as pic piles scene upon jaggedly cut scene, creating a kaleidoscopic and increasingly tensionless narrative that leaches the film of energy while providing as many costume changes among principals as any feature in recent memory. And climactic Atlantic City bachelor party, to which much of buddy dynamics have been building up, happens offscreen.

Tech credits are pro, although requisite collection of pop songs supplementing the soundtrack degrades alarmingly to a low point of “Do It to Me One More Time” and “I’m All Out of Love” covers at the last-reel wedding.

30 Days

(ROMANTIC COMEDY)

Production: An Arielle Tepper/Araca Group presentation of an Araca Group/Arielle Tepper production. (International sales: Araca Group, New York.) Produced by Matthew Rego, Michael Rego, Arielle Tepper. Directed, written by Aaron Harnick.

Crew: Camera (color), David Tumblety; editor, Sean J. Campbell; music, Andrew Sherman, Stephen J. Walsh; production designer, Michael Fagin; art director, Kristin Costa; costume designer, Juliet A. Polcsa; sound (Dolby), Najja Noon; associate producer, Hank Unger; assistant director, Josh Silverman; casting, Andra Reeve. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Discovery), Sept. 12, 1999. Running time: 87 MIN.

With: Jordan Trainer ..... Ben Shenkman Sarah Meyers ..... Arija Bareikis Mike Charles ..... Alexander Chaplin Tad Star ..... Bradley White Brad Drazin ..... Thomas McCarthy Lauren ..... Catherine Kellner Rick Trainer ..... Jerry Adler Barbara Trainer ..... Barbara Barrie Stacey ..... Arden Myrin Actor ..... Mark Feuerstein

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