A trite premise, predictable story and two awkward protagonists all make for a surprisingly entertaining time in Max Nichols’ new romantic comedy Two Night Stand. The indie rom-com is carried by Miles Teller and Analeigh Tipton’s offbeat interactions and believable chemistry that makes the film an enjoyable romp through modern dating’s pitfalls.
The film starts too predictably — a sad, broken girl, inordinately torn up over an average breakup and an average boy. Feminists beware: This is not a film for the faint of heart, as Megan (Tipton) lopes around her girlfriend’s apartment post-breakup, apparently without a job, lacking the motivation to fix the mess that is her life. Misguided by the ever-stereotypical best friend (played in Valley girl voice by Jessica Szohr) who thinks it’s time Megan moved on with a one-night stand, Tipton’s character signs up for what appears to be Tinder for slightly older folks.
Within minutes, after a few gulps of wine and some uncomfortably realistic creepy messages, Megan is treated to witty banter with normal-looking, happy Alec, played by a charming Teller. Moviegoers will smile at the naive niceness on both sides of the exchange, and are expected to suspend disbelief as Megan rushes across New York City on a snowy night to have sex with a stranger. Unfortunately for the pair, the fun doesn’t really start until the next morning, as Megan’s attempt to sneak out is foiled by a snowstorm (surprise!).
This is where the movie really gets interesting because it’s not tied down by the dumb, supportive best friend, conventions about dating or the unimaginative premise. With the rest of the film taking place almost entirely in Alec’s apartment, viewers join the pair in awkward, uncomfortable and truly laughable situations, finally bringing the audience into a world they can imagine, one where sex isn’t the be-all and end-all.
Forced to deal with each other, Alec and Megan decide to correct each other’s sexual techniques for fun and “science,” and though their sex tips could be drafted from a Cosmo article, the banter is believable and the indignation on either side relatable and hilarious. The casting is commendable — it helps that neither of the stars is chiseled, Photoshop-perfect or suave in manner. Viewers might see a little bit of themselves in Tipton’s awkward attempts to learn to sexily undress and Teller’s college boy solution to their problems.
Those who are willing to hang up their rom-com skepticism for the night will be swept into the adorable romance that forms between the pair as they go through all the motions of dating in the space of a day, and learn to be better friends and lovers.
Pause for a sharp right turn into “dramedy” territory — the film veers off course near the end, trying and failing to introduce conflict to break up the hunky-dory happiness of new love but again finds its way with the predictability of romantic comedies.
The film also touches on the darker concepts of feminism and sl-t-shaming in an unconscious way, with Alec asking Megan if the one-night stand is what she “usually does,” though his behavior is never called into question. Megan also admits that her plan in life was to be a wife and mother, never planning on using her degree, making every career-oriented woman in the audience cringe at the assumption.
But it seems the intent is never to harm or criticize, and the film is pure entertainment in its simplest form. Tipton is more likable than she has ever been and has come a long way from the creepy teenager in Crazy, Stupid, Love, while Teller is a fantastic leading man, caring without seeming disingenuous, silly without being ridiculous. Original music by brothers Neil and Matthew de Luca is current and bright without being bubblegum, enhancing the sensory experience in an otherwise plain-Jane production.
Not for the romantic skeptic or the intellectual moviegoer, Two Night Stand will find fans in those looking for an easy laugh and feel-good warmth.