I feel like the coolest place to be is in your twenties right now. This is especially true if you’re as talented and interested in people as writer/director/actor Cooper Raiff. Cha Cha Real Smooth is another favorite from Sundance this week – and what is up with Dakota Johnson like, being incredibly breathtaking and good?
Raiff plays Andrew, a recent college grad, uncertain with his future and plotting out his next moves while working at a fast food joint. He’s crashing on the floor of his adorable little brother’s (Evan Assante) bedroom, skirting worldly advice from his loving mom (Leslie Mann) and her sub-par boyfriend (Brad Garrett).
Their family attends many bar and bat mitzvahs, and Andrew finds himself duped into a gig as a “party starter.” He helps to liven up the events with his charismatic “director of fun” attitude. It’s at one of these celebrations that he meets Domino (Dakota Johnson) and her autistic daughter Lola (Vanessa Burghardt).
At first I wasn’t sure about Dakota Johnson. But let me tell you – wow. She sucked me right in. There is something in her eyes, in her movement – that is so relevant to the space her character occupies. She is exquisite and delightful as Domino, and it’s no wonder that Andrew falls for her.
The story isn’t just about falling in love with someone that you shouldn’t. (Like say, someone way older or younger than you). To me, it was more about how we measure ourselves up against those who we choose to love.
Raiff is endearing and empathetic as Andrew. His connections to his mom, his little brother, and Lola are truthful. It’s obvious he has taken the time to get to know the characters he has created, while giving them space to evolve. Not bad for a “dumb kid.”