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Worth the Weight

Pic is a pleasing romantic comedy about a double-plus-sized guy who falls in love with his trainer.

With: Robbie Kaller, Jillian Leigh, Tommy Snider, Constance Reese, Bryan Bellomo, Jacquelyn Viera, Jess Allen.

Amiable if not big on finesse, not unlike its lumbering protag, “Worth the Weight” is a pleasing indie romantic comedy about a double-plus-sized guy who, in trying to shed some pounds, falls in love with his trainer. Coming off as a lower-key “Knocked Up” with dieting instead of pregnancy as plot engine, this bigscreen feature debut for helmer Ryan Sage and scenarist Dale Zawada has the loose, friendly vibe, nice performance riffing and somewhat underdeveloped narrative common to movies hatched by standup and skit comedy talents. Theatrical prospects are slender, but fest buzz could provide liftoff for decent home-format exposure.

Sam (Robbie Kaller) was once a promising college football player, but seven years after a career-ending injury, the closest he’s gotten to the sporting world is a bowling-alley counter job alongside wiseguy roommate Miles (Tommy Snider). One night, in the company of Miles’ g.f., LaShawna (a scene-stealing Constance Reese), and fitness-center worker Ginger (Jacquelyn Vieira), the boys place a bet on who can lose more weight. Thus, Sam — tipping the scales at more than 400 pounds — finds himself at Ginger’s gym, making the first tortuous stabs at getting back in shape with help from Cassie (Jillian Leigh), an unlikely trainer with her hipster look, smoking habit and less-than-peppy demeanor.

They enjoy one another’s company, something Cassie can’t necessarily say about b.f. Stephan (Bryan Bellomo), an insufferable would-be poet and cheapskate. In an attempt to make Stephan jealous, she asks Sam out on what’s “technically not a date,” but which of course he takes as one. When she finally consents to an official date, he’s nervous enough to start drinking beforehand, leading to a catastrophic, rapidly curtailed evening that threatens to sink their prospects. Meanwhile, Miles freaks out over the news that LaShawna is pregnant. (When he drops hints about an abortion, her discussion-closing outburst is priceless.)

While its progress is amusing, “Worth the Weight” barely seems to have gotten going, plot-wise, before it’s over. A little more conflict and complexity wouldn’t have hurt; for one thing, Stephan is such an obvious Mr. Wrong, there’s no suspense at all over whether Cassie will end up with him.

Still, the performers are engaging, and the pic that deftly showcases them is unpretentiously well-turned on all tech and design levels. One highlight is a brief Hanna Barbera-styled animated sequence by Mark Farinas.

Worth the Weight

Production: An RKM29 presentation. Produced by Kristina Denton. Executive producers, Ryan Sage, Katherine-Marie Sage. Directed, edited by Ryan Sage. Screenplay, Dale Zawada.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Stephen Sheridan; music, John DeBorde; sound, Dana Kopetzky, James Cameron Skifter; re-recording mixer, Rod O'Brien; animation, Mark Farinas; casting, Kristina Denton. Reviewed on DVD, San Francisco, Feb. 29, 2012. (In Cinequest Film Festival -- New Visions.) Running time: 93 MIN.

With: With: Robbie Kaller, Jillian Leigh, Tommy Snider, Constance Reese, Bryan Bellomo, Jacquelyn Viera, Jess Allen.

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