Judge Gordon Sullivan would rather have a case of pinot noir.
He'll be everything she likes but himself.
A genre picture is a lot like a stew. The idea with both is that you take a bunch of familiar, maybe even pedestrian ingredients, and by combining them make them greater than the sum of their parts. The best stews, like the best genre pictures, transcend their ingredients—even if you don't like onions, they can be the perfect addition to a well-made stew. Similarly, even if you hate the setup of romantic comedies, it's hard not to be charmed by When Harry Met Sally. The problem comes when all the ingredients don't quite mix (whether we're talking about stews or genre pictures). Then even the strength of individual components can't make up for the fact that the sum is less than its parts. A Case of You is the perfect example of this phenomenon. Though the individual parts (like the cast) are compelling, they never add up to much in the end.
Sam (Justin Long, Live Free or Die Hard) is a writer looking around for his next book. While that's happening, he's also obsessing over a barista at his local coffee joint (Evan Rachel Wood, The Wrestler). He decides to kill two birds with one stone, stalking her online until he knows what she likes, and then he woos her with that information. So now he does ballroom dancing and plays the guitar, but it's not the real him. When she admits to falling for him, Sam is placed in the awkward position of having something to write about but having to let her down.
A Case of You is a romantic comedy, and as such we have to expect certain things from it. There will be a couple, there will be a misunderstanding, true love will be revealed, and despite obstacles, the couple will get together. There will even be other quirky characters along the way. A Case of You does a little too much with the latter, and not enough with the former. The overall plot is rote boy-meets-girl stuff, with the angle of Sam looking for material. That's the "hook" that A Case of You hangs its misunderstandings on. It's not a horrible hook as far as it goes, but despite the numerous opportunities, the film has to do something new with the material, it doesn't. On the flip side, A Case of You over-invests in packing the film with "quirky" characters. Individually, they're amusing; I especially love Peter Dinklage's weird creation as Birdie's co-worker. However, as a parade they detract from the focus on Sam and Birdie, which is both tiresome and shows just how empty the central "romance" is.
The one thing you can't take away from A Case of You is the cast. Though Long has been playing this kind of hapless, half-smarmy character for a while, everyone else feels surprisingly fresh. Evan Rachel Wood is charming as Birdie, and it's not hard to see why. We also get a fun appearance by Sam Rockwell as Sam's guitar teacher, and everyone from Brendan Frasier to Sienna Miller shows up to fill out the cast. Sam's editor is even played by Vince Vaughn. Peter Dinklage also once again proves he's one of the most talented actors working as he plays Birdie's co-worker. I'd have rather seen a film just about him. I don't know what Long and director Kat Coiro had on these actors to get them to appear, but it elevates the movie.
The film is also not terrible. I think, given the cast, that it could have and should have been better. However, what's here is executed with energy and skill. That means those who want just another romantic comedy to watch can appreciate the expected twists and turns in the Sam and Birdie story. Fans of the actors will get to see their favorites take on quirky roles. There is some pleasure to be had, therefore, even if it's not as much as the talent involved would suggest.
A Case of You (Blu-ray) is also pretty strong. The 2.40:1/1080p AVC-encoded transfer is full of rich detail. There are a lot of bright scenes that showcases nice textures, and the interior scenes of Sam and Birdie's hobbies are similarly impressive. Colors are well-saturated, and black levels stay consistent and deep. No significant digital artefacts crop up. Similarly, the DTS-HD 5.1 audio track keeps dialogue clean and clear. The surround don't get a lot of use, but there is some directionality to establish atmosphere.
The set's extras include a set of interviews with the usual suspects. They're informative and light, complimenting the movie perfectly. The film's trailer is also available. Given the homegrown nature of the script (written by Long, his brother Christian, and co-star Keir O'Donnell), a commentary would have been nice.
A Case of You is one of those films that sets itself a modest goal and achieves it. If you're looking for a simple rom-com with a lot of great actors, then this will probably fit the bill. If you want something particularly clever or original from your romantic comedies, this probably isn't the film for you. In either case, the decent A Case of You (Blu-ray) that's worth a rental to the interested.
Generic, but not guilty.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Review content copyright © 2014 Gordon Sullivan; Site design and review layout copyright © 2014 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.