“6 Month Rule” plows familiar romantic-comedy terrain: the reformation of a terminal Lothario, with a subplot in which he attempts to instruct a freshly dumped nice-guy pal in all the wrong ways to treat women. That it nonetheless plays as funny and fresh is a tribute to multihyphenate Blayne Weaver’s sharp writing, as well as his mostly astute direction of a cast he handily headlines himself. Lacking marquee names and a novel hook, this well-crafted indie looks to make a minor impact in smallscale theatrical rollout, but should acquire some good notices toward wider home-format exposure.
The serial jerkdom of Tyler Watts (Weaver) is established in a montage of breakups in which he unloads various short-term girlfriends whose reactions range from weepy to cold, furious to utterly unsurprised. (One calls him “a cynical, shallow coward who’s going to die alone … thanks for wasting my time.”) His vainglory as an artiste persists even though he’s long abandoned fine-arts photography for the strictly commercial kind (i.e., making burgers look nice for ads).
Ty’s longest-running involvement with a woman has been a purely sexual one with equally hardboiled bombshell Wendy (Vanessa Branch). His closest male friendship is with sad sack Alan (Judd Apatow regular Martin Starr), whose devastation after his live-in girlfriend (Jaime Pressly) delivers him his walking papers provokes more venom from Ty toward the alleged “bitch” ex than sympathy toward her alleged victim. It’s a selfish, sexist double standard he tries to pass on once Alan temporarily resettles on his apartment couch.
But his primary rule — “Any guy can get over any girl in six months” — is one that sensitive Alan can’t or won’t learn, and that crass Tyler will need to unlearn once he meets whip-smart painter Sophie (Natalie Morales, “Parks and Recreation”). This match-up is imperiled, however, by Sophie’s loyalty to a dumb but doting rising-rocker beau (Patrick J. Adams). Tyler proves himself childishly unable to accept the slightest whiff of competition.
Halfway through becoming a credible portrait of opposites attracting, driven by Morales and Weaver’s excellent chemistry, “6 Month Rule” then does an equally good job of chronicling their dissolution, via several well-penned confrontations between Tyler and various intimates who read him the riot act. Script stumbles a bit, though, in a last stretch that caves in to sentimental genre conventions before halfheartedly ending on a semi-sober note.
Ensemble is sharp, although Adams and Dave Foley (as an obnoxious gallery owner) make more caricatured impressions. Shot in Shreveport, La., as well as Los Angeles, the pic boasts a pro tech package, though some might find the soundtrack’s surfeit of sensitive singer-songwriters a sonic cliche in itself.