Judge Patrick Bromley thought this movie would be a lot funnier if, instead of pretending to be gay to get ahead at work, the main character pretended to be gay so he could share an apartment with two hot chicks.
A romantic comedy with consequences.
I liked Partner(s) better when it was called Three to Tango. Oh, wait…no, I didn't.
Facts of the Case
Up-and-coming lawyer Dave Denali (Jay Harrington, Desperate Housewives) is looking to make partner at his firm. When a big case gets thrown his way due to a misunderstanding—his boss believes he's gay—Dave does nothing to convince him otherwise. In fact, just the opposite; Dave convinces his roommate, Christopher (Michael Ian Black, The State, The Baxter), who actually is gay, to pose as his boyfriend. Things are looking good for Dave until his number one competitor for partner, the über-aggressive Katherine (Julie Bowen, Runaway Daughters), sets out to prove that he's actually straight. Making the ruse even more difficult is the fact that Dave has fallen in love with the daughter of his client (Brooke Langton, Kiss the Bride), but can't tell her for fear of losing his big promotion. Pretending to be gay is hard!
The wannabe-clever spelling of Partner(s) smacks of the same self-satisfied cuteness that plagues the whole movie. Like far too many romantic comedies these days, it relies almost totally on dopey characters not communicating and easily-fixed misunderstandings, but can't even seem to get that much right. The misunderstandings are oddly ambiguous, and none of the characters are particularly dopey, leaving us to wonder why they put themselves in a mess like this in the first place. And couldn't the same be said for the actors playing these characters?
For a movie that ultimately determines that sexuality really doesn't matter—it's kind of grown up in that way—Partner(s) can't seem to stop obsessing over the subject. Scene after scene after scene, characters debate over what it means to be gay, or what it's like being gay, or who might not be gay, or who's not gay but is pretending to be gay, and gay on and gay on. And while I want to applaud the movie for avoiding the kind of juvenile, Three's Company-inspired confusion and homophobia-as-humor I expected from the plot, I can't help but feel that this singular preoccupation with sexual preference undermines what might otherwise be a somewhat progressive romantic comedy. The movie can't get out of its own way, and it suffers as a result.
And, yet, despite a few simple-minded exchanges worthy of Will & Grace (David: "I could be gay." Christopher: "Not in those shoes."), it is refreshing to see a comedy about homosexuals that doesn't play them for swishy, campy laughs. There are no stereotypes—the gay characters are played, for lack of a better word, straight. It makes one wish that writer/director Dave Diamond had abandoned his forced misunderstandings and canned hijinks in favor of a more direct story; both Christopher's subplot (in which he reconnects with a former boyfriend now attempting to "go straight") and Michael Ian Black's performance are worthy of their own film. I wish I could say the same for both Harrington and Bowen, who play the movie's hero and villain, respectively, but could have just as easily been replaced by mannequins—mannequins that have taken acting lessons, of course, but hunks of plastic nonetheless.
Lionsgate's DVD of Partner(s) is attractive but empty, just like the movie itself. Presented in an anamorphic widescreen transfer of 1.78:1, the image is bright and snappy, doing justice to the movie's warm and handsome cinematography. The 2.0 audio track does a fine job of handling the movie's dialogue, too, though is disappointingly unable to improve upon it. The only extra included is a couple of bonus trailers for other Lionsgate titles, including Waiting and Knots—either of which I would much rather have watched than Partner(s).
Partner(s) tries so hard to be hip and clever, so why is it so bland? And what's the deal with that tagline? "A romantic comedy with consequences"? Who wants that? It's funny! It's cute! Someone will pay!
Partner(s) is dum(b).
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