Someone cancelled Judge Chris Kulik's reservation.
Three's a crowd…especially when the crowd is two!
In an attempt to distance himself from the Man of Steel (for the time being anyway), Brandon Routh has decided to go the indie route. This may have not been a bad idea, considering his role in Kevin Smith's Zack and Miri Make a Porno didn't add much to his resume. Ironically, he's traveling a similar road as Christopher Reeve, who did a much quieter, low-profile film (Somewhere in Time) after the first two Superman films made bank. Was doing Table for Three a bad call? Or, could it result in a small following on DVD?
Facts of the Case
Routh plays Scott Teller. He's sincere, charming, handsome. His flaw happens to be falling in love with girls too quickly, as evidenced by an awkward, failed proposal after two months' dating. To add to his woes, his L.A. roommate has left for Europe, leaving him alone. Scott becomes an antisocial hermit because of his work-at-home profession, but soon takes the initiative by finding a new roommate. Weird interviewees come left and right, scaring the hell out of Scott. All he wants his someone normal to move into this domain.
Enter Ryan Barrett (Jesse Bradford, Flags of Our Fathers) and Mary Kincaid (Sophia Bush, One Tree Hill). They're hip, fun, and positively infectious. At first, Scott resists the idea of living with a couple but, after a few hours talking with them, he's sold. Soon, they're all having drinks and getting to know each other more. However, Ryan and Mary are worried about their new roomie's problem with women. And when the sexy, spirited Leslie (Jennifer Morrison, House) enters the picture, they want ensure Scott doesn't makes the same mistake…even if it means annoyingly compromising the union.
The inclusion of a bomb in Table for Three's title tells you this is not a run-of-the-mill romantic comedy. In fact, the film's romantic subplot is secondary to the real story, how Ryan and Mary interfere with Scott's latest conquest and how the latter attempts to dodge their aggravating actions. Scott's character is what's known as a "third wheel," a dumping place for a couple's quirks, frustration and eccentricities. Ryan and Mary's intentions aren't hostile, but Scott finds it difficult to believe they are acting out of his best interests.
Sounds like a setup for a demented farce in the What About Bob?-vein, right? Yet, writer/director Michael Samonek works overtime to create a wickedly funny, highly energetic comedy that depends on equal parts plot, dialogue, and character. He keeps things moving at a face pace and, thankfully, doesn't take the easy way out to close the story.
The laughs range from cringing to embarrassing, raunchy to rambunctious. Whichever direction, the film promises chuckles in a variety of ways. First, the dialogue given to Ryan and Mary contains a lot of well-timed, creative lingo ("Hasta Lasagna!"), as well as salacious wordplay that dominate their sexcapades (none of which I shall spoil here). Plus, Routh proves to be an apt comic foil with a series of bewildered facial expressions, which all mirror the viewer's reactions to a tee. We learn much about Ryan and Mary's past by how they communicate without monologues or characters reading from documents. Like many good comedy scripts, Table for Three introduces interesting characters (some wacky, some not), puts them in a situation, then lets said situation build and build and build until everything explodes. Seriously, Samonek makes an auspicious debut here.
Complementing the delicious dialogue and well-crafted scenario is a game cast. Starting with the star, I thought Routh was a satisfactory Superman. Thus, I wanted to see if he could be equally adept in different cinematic territory. Truth is, I couldn't have been more surprised. Routh scores as this bashful bachelor who must deal with the couple from Promiscuous Purgatory. I completely forgot about his previous superhero turn and found him a most appealing (and believable) romantic lead. What's even better is the bubbling chemistry he has with co-star Morrison. Certainly she has the most difficult role in the entire film, but she handles herself well, and I love how she deals with Ryan and Mary's drunkenness early on.
However, I must stipulate that Bradford and Bush own the proceedings. Armed with manic energy going in, these two are on fire the whole time, even with Routh grabbing the extinguisher every once in awhile. Granted, their characters do tend to be irritating at times, but they actually emerge as likable and multi-dimensional. Bush, especially, tears down the house with her out-of-nowhere joviality, but she also generates laughs in the scenes where her blood pressure reaches a boiling point. Still, all four actors are terrific and carry the film through its periodic flaws and lulls.
Never released theatrically, Table for Three should entertain some looking for a casual rental. And Anchor Bay has supplied an excellent DVD package. While this is a low-budget production, the colors and sharpness in the 1.85:1 anamorphic print are beyond impressive. Black levels are superb, flesh tones are natural, and dirt/grain is pretty much nowhere to be found. Matching the visual quality is a solid 5.1 Surround track. All of the well-chosen songs on the soundtrack come through nicely, and dialogue is discernible in every scene. English subtitles are provided. As for extras, we have a info-packed commentary by Samonek, a 29-minute featurette with all four actors joining the director, and a theatrical trailer. The featurette is EPK in nature, but those who don't dig commentaries should lap it up.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
As enjoyable as the film is, it does surrender itself to the obvious at times. One example is a smaller character who must explain to Scott how serious his dilemma really is, even when he already has more than a few clues. The climatic wedding sequence also cheapens itself slightly with unnecessary slapstick. These are really just nitpicks, but they do keep the film from hitting the bulls-eye all the same.
It's going to be interesting to see how Table for Three plays on DVD. My advice is try not to think about Superman Returns when you see Routh on the cover. He may be the lead, but all of the other actors match him. Low key as it is, the film is worth renting.
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