Surrogate Valentine

Pic is fueled by no overriding visual style, relying completely on its actors' chemistry for momentum.

With: Goh Nakamura, Chadd Stoops, Lynn Chen, Mary Cavett, Joy Osmanski, Parry Shen.

Odd-couple road movie “Surrogate Valentine” pairs a taciturn Asian-American singer-songwriter with the loudmouth TV actor hired to portray him. Shot in black-and-white on HD, Dave Boyle’s pic is fueled by no overriding visual style, relying completely on its actors’ chemistry for momentum. Unfortunately, the two strike no sparks. Real-life musician Goh Nakamura projects a certain sad-sack integrity, but if he were any more laid-back, he’d be comatose; meanwhile, Chadd Stoops channels Jim Carrey to unconvincing, monotonous effect. Unlike Boyle’s more caricatured, Asian-themed “White on Rice,” this low-key comedy seems unlikely to foment buzz. Producers plan a post-fest VOD release.

Goh (Nakamura, playing himself) and Danny (Stoops) travel from Los Angeles to Seattle, with stopovers for Nakamura’s real-life music gigs. Their trip proves resistant to Boyle’s attempt to superimpose a haphazard fiction about Danny playing Goh in a film; skinny chatterbox Danny’s actorly attempts to imitate a plump, Zen-like introvert feel more forced than suitably absurdist. Run-ins along the way, such as Goh’s reunion with old flame Rachel (an incongruously intelligent Lynn Chen), register flatly, yielding none of the usual road-movie bonuses involving weird detours and oddball encounters.

Popular on Variety

Surrogate Valentine

Production: A Tiger Industry Films, Brainwave Films production. (International sales: Tiger Industry Films, New York.) Produced by Duane Andersen, Dave Boyle. Executive producer, Gary Chou. Directed by Dave Boyle. Screenplay, Boyle, Joel Clark, Goh Nakamura.

Crew: Camera (B&W, HD), Bill Otto; editors, Duane Andersen, Boyle, Michael Lerman. Reviewed at Core Club, New York, March 8, 2011. (In SXSW Film Festival -- Emerging Visions; San Francisco Asian-American Film Festival.) Running time: 74 MIN.

With: With: Goh Nakamura, Chadd Stoops, Lynn Chen, Mary Cavett, Joy Osmanski, Parry Shen.

More Film

  • Dan Trachtenberg

    Tom Holland's 'Uncharted' Movie Loses Director

    Dan Trachtenberg has exited the director’s chair for Sony’s “Uncharted” movie starring Tom Holland, with the studio taking meetings with top filmmakers and production starting early next year. The studio confirmed Trachtenberg’s departure Thursday. It also said Sony-based PlayStation Productions — headed by Asad Qizilbash and Carter Swan — had come on to produce alongside [...]

  • Participant Taps Anikah McLaren, Robert Kessel

    Participant Taps Anikah McLaren, Robert Kessel to Head Film Department

    Participant Media has named industry veterans Anikah McLaren and Robert Kessel as co-heads of the company’s film department with the titles of executive vice president. Both executives will report together to Participant CEO David Linde, who made the announcement Thursday. McLaren joins Participant having most recently served as a production executive for Fox Searchlight Pictures. [...]

  • 'The Son' Review: Bosnian Family Drama

    Sarajevo Film Review: 'The Son'

    It is a mixed blessing to be born in the aftermath of a war. On the one hand, you never have to experience the terror and suffering your parents did; on the other, you grow up with your own personal crises forever made to feel smaller by comparison. That, at least, is the frustration driving [...]

  • Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez star

    Box Office: Jennifer Lopez 'Hustlers' Heading for $25 Million Launch

    STX Entertainment’s “Hustlers,” a comedic thriller about strip-club employees seeking revenge, is expected to earn $25 million when it opens on Sept. 13, according to early tracking. The movie — starring Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Lili Reinhart, Keke Palmer, Cardi B and Lizzo — will debut alongside Warner Bros.’ “The Goldfinch.” The drama, based on [...]

  • AMC TheatresShop signs, Los Angeles, America

    AMC Theatres Lays Off 35 Corporate Staffers

    AMC Entertainment has laid off 35 corporate staffers and will not fill an additional 15 open jobs. The Kansas-based chain made the announcement Thursday as part of a previously announced “profit improvement plan” intended to achieve operating and administrative efficiencies. AMC, which operates more than 10,000 movie screens, had disclosed the plan on Aug. 8 [...]

  • Ann Sarnoff Warner Bros

    Ann Sarnoff Formally Takes Reins of Warner Bros. as CEO

    The Ann Sarnoff era at Warner Bros. has begun. Sarnoff formally took the reins as Warner Bros. chair-CEO on Thursday, two months after she was appointed to the post. Sarnoff told employees in a memo that she has been impressed by the company’s track record during the past year amid a period of upheaval for [...]

  • Take Me Somewhere Nice review

    Ena Sendijarevic on Migration, Identity and the Question of Belonging

    Bosnian filmmaker Ena Sendijarević had an auspicious debut with “Import,” a short film which world premiered in Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight in 2016. Drawing on her own family’s personal history, the Amsterdam-based director crafted an idiosyncratic tale about a family of Bosnian refugees trying to make a new home in the Netherlands. With her feature debut, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content