Every man's fantasy. This man's nightmare.
After Pulp Fiction scored big we were treated to a variety of sub-par crime dramas involving low rent gangsters. It's true. Sure, some of them were far better than others, but this new sub-genre bred dozens of Pulp Fiction wannabes that weren't worth the paper the scripts were printed on. Maybe it's just a misperception on my part, but ever since Kevin Smith's Chasing Amy became something of a cult hit there have been more and more attempts to make an independent movie that tries to be some sort of a socially relevant, innovative romantic comedy. All you need to do to make this type of movie is come up with some sort of bizarre, romantic escapade, throw in a couple of uncomfortable funny moments, and maybe try to force in some sort of unusual convention like, say, the best friend of the main character narrating the story from a bar after it's all happened. Oddly enough, I just described Neil Turitz's Two Ninas.
Facts of the Case
Marty Sachs (Ron Livingston—Swingers, Office Space) is something of a pathetic loser. He never seems to score with women, he can't sell his manuscript to a book publisher because no agent will talk to him, and he's contemplating moving back to Maine to help out with the family business instead of continuing his life in New York City. At least, this is what he tells his best friend Dave (Bray Pour—Entropy) during a weak moment. This is all according to Dave, of course, who happens to be telling this story to a stranger in a bar. So, in order to cheer his friend up, Dave forces Marty to come to a big party, where Marty meets the Nina Cohen (Cara Buono), an embittered woman who takes an instant sense of loathing to Marty. Naturally, they end up leaving the party together and swapping life stories at a bar and they seem to hit it off. Just when it looks like Marty might score, Nina decides to play hard to get. For two months.
The next week Marty is out minding his own business when he collides with a taxi cab door as it's opened by Nina Harris (Amanda Peet—The Whole Nine Yards, Saving Silverman), which gains him a trip to the hospital and a night on the town with Nina number two. (Note to self: cervical collars are babe magnets.) What are the odds, right? Two beautiful women and they're both named Nina. Marty and Nina don't seem to get along too well, but the sex turns out to be great. This is the beginning of Marty's dilemma.
It turns out that Marty is falling in love with Nina number one, but he can't seem to give up the fantastic sex life offered by Nina number two. This leads to Marty doing a couple of things:
1) Stringing both women along because he doesn't want to hurt either one of them.
2) Blathering on about his problem ad infinitum to Dave, who offers excellent advice that is constantly ignored. "Break up with Cohen," he'd say. "No, I can't do that." Dave counters with, "Then break it off with Harris." "No, I can't do that, either."
Did I mention Marty is a pathetic loser?
If you don't think it's too much of a coincidence that someone could meet two beautiful women who are both named Nina who will fall madly in love with the same man in the course of a week all in a small town like New York City, then you'll really flip when it turns out they know each other. Yeah, who didn't see that plot twist coming? As is common to this type of film, it takes Marty far longer to figure out which Nina is right for him than it would have for a person of below average intelligence or most orangutans of above average intellect, and he figures it out far too late to avoid a complete and utter disaster.
And that's really the main problem with Two Ninas: the plot is just sadly predictable from about fifteen minutes into the film. I've seen this before in just about every other chick flick I've been forced to endure. On top of that, just when you think Two Ninas might get witty and insightful not too unlike Chasing Amy, it lets you down. There are a couple of laughs scattered throughout the film, but they are too few and far between to make Two Ninas into an engaging film.
The acting is capable enough in Two Ninas, with each of the characters hitting the marks they're meant to. Ron Livingston is charming enough when his character isn't trying to lie his way out of a situation, and Amanda Peet gives a rather decent performance even though the material she's working with is sub-standard.
Yes, Two Ninas is a chick flick—one of those types of movies dreaded by guys and thrust upon us by women who should know better by now. They force us into these things hoping to change us, or make us sensitive, but let's face it, we really just want some good 'splosions or some muzzle flashes to make us happy. To be fair, though, I decided to run Two Ninas through the Chick-o-Meter™ to properly judge whether or not it could hold up to Chick Flick standards. For those who don't know, the Chick-o-Meter™ tallies the number of various circumstances that occur throughout the movie, whether in the film itself or from someone-who-will-remain-nameless sitting next to you.
Relationship Insights: 0
So, as you can plainly see here, this was a pretty bad movie even by chick flick standards.
The transfer is okay considering what this film is. Colors are vibrant enough, but I'll point out that this does not appear to be an anamorphic transfer (there's a lack of technical specs on the packaging). On top of this the sound is presented in a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix, so it turned out that my malfunctioning stereo receiver was a bit of a moot point when I popped this disc into my DVD player. The extras included on this DVD are pretty sparse. Avalanche provides us with a trailer and a Bloopers & Outtakes reel. Amanda Peet is cute as a button mugging for the camera, but, like most outtake reels, this one is pretty forgettable.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
There were a few major problems I really had with Two Ninas. The greatest error made by Neil Turitz was having the guy be a huge Red Sox fan and his love interest being a huge New York Yankees fan and having the relationship work. Coming from someone who grew up in Maine, I can honestly tell you that this would never happen in a million jillion years.
I should also point out that guys do not sit around bearing their souls to each other, either. Anyone thinking this smacks of realism has never really hung out with a group of guys before. The deepest any guy will get with another guy is answering a question along the lines of, "Hey, buddy, are you okay?" This is the way things were meant to be.
I thought I'd really be fair and run Two Ninas through the Guy-o-Meter™ to form a true scientific calculation on this film.
As you can see, Two Ninas doesn't stand up as a guy movie, either.
There's absolutely nothing new and original in Two Ninas but the acting is pretty solid. To be honest, though, I'd probably watch it again unless I had something more important to do, like working a knot out of my shoelaces or manually inflating a rubber raft.
Avalanche Video is found guilty of a substandard DVD release, but we'll let them off easy. Neil Turitz could turn out to be a decent director and writer when his skills improve a bit, so he's ordered to try this whole movie thing again in the future.
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