Sunday, January 30, 2022

Cha Cha Real Smooth - 2022 Sundance Movie Review

The Movie: Cha Cha Real Smooth

The Director: Cooper Raiff

The Cast: Cooper Raiff, Dakota Johnson, Evan Assante, Vanessa Burghardt, Leslie Mann, Brad Garrett, Raúl Castillo, Odeya Rush, Amara Pedroso Saquel, Kelly O'Sullivan, Brooklyn Sloane Ramirez

The Story: A young man who works as a Bar Mitzvah party host strikes up a friendship with a mother and her autistic daughter.

The Review:
If there was an award for most likable movie this would absolutely win hands down, no contest, wrap it up and ship it out because there is no competition. Cooper Raiff on screen, as recent college grad Andrew, brings to life such a charming and relatable young man and behind the camera, he fills the movie with this wonderful feel good vibe that intersects multiple coming of age stories. The dialog from beginning to end is all pretty great and then you add the performances from the entire cast on top of that and it's all quite brilliant.

That's a lot of praise right off the bat but you know what, this movie absolutely deserves it. I fell in love with everyone in the movie which speaks a lot to the casting, the writing, and I guess really the entire creative process of making the movie. I was already a fan of Dakota Johnson and I feel like this performance is the best work she has done to date. Her character Domino is just as likable as Raiff's while also going deep beneath the surface to give insight on and depth to the fact that she is a single mom and does have things in her past that have put her to the test.

I actually like that the drama never gets too heavy and, other than some excessive drinking, I think it's a pretty safe watch for kids as well as adults. I say that because there are two teenage characters that are essential to the story, Evan Assante plays Andrew's brother David and Vanessa Burghardt makes her acting debut as Domino's teenage daughter Lola and both are pretty fantastic right along with the rest of the cast. As an ensemble cast, every role is spot on even when it comes to smaller roles like Brad Garrett who plays Andrew's step dad and Raúl Castillo who is on board as Domino's significant other.

The one thing you will notice above anything else is the chemistry between Raiff and Johnson which is highlighted by a couple of lengthy conversations. One of them is a steamy late night talk involving otter pops and another is a discussion about soul mates that really hit home and both are indisputable proof of just how good this movie is. Also, if you think you know how this movie is going to end, you'll be in for a treat as Raiff veers away from conventional storytelling and comes up with a way to finish things off in some unexpectedly satisfying ways.

To keep track of all my Sundance reviews, interviews, and other festival coverage please go to: TwoOhSix at Sundance 2022.

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