Social awkwardness fails to add to a stagnant romantic comedy.
Best known as one of the pioneers of the indie mumblecore movement, Andrew Bujalski (Funny Ha Ha, Computer Chess) attempts to cross over to the commercial world with Results, a romantic comedy featuring professional actors with a budget that appears larger than all of his previous work combined. In true Bujalski fashion, the writer-director offers socially awkward characters the freedom to roam in a loosely defined script. But the shapeless structure loses steam half-way through, and never fully picks back up by the end.
Recent divorcé Danny (Kevin Corrigan) relocates to Austin, Texas with a ton of inheritance money but no one to spend it with. Danny is so lonely in his vacant mansion that he’s willing to pay $200 for a stranger off Craigslist to hook-up his TV set, his only interaction with a human that day. He decides to visit a local gym, mostly because he’s bored out of his mind and just wants company. His lack of motivation is clear from the beginning, “I’m hoping to get in shape a little bit,” he says to gym owner Trevor (Guy Pearce). Lucky for him, the trainer assigned to him is the strong-willed and gorgeous Kat (Cobie Smulders). As with most romantic comedies, it’s not hard to see where the story is heading.
A few workout sessions into his new regimen and Danny develops an attraction towards Kat, and although she can do a million times better than this overweight depressed guy, she seems into him. But Danny doesn’t have a beat of romantic rhythm in his bones, and is about as smooth as sandpaper. On a night scheduled for a workout, he surprises Kat with an intimate candlelit dinner and live music. For Kat, it feels more like an ambush, and she makes a beeline for the exit.
Bujalski reveals Kat’s habit of crossing the line in professional relationships from the beginning. If a client skips out on payment or threatens to drop her as their trainer, she stands her ground and refuses to accept no for an answer. At other times, her cute looks and welcoming spirit leads her into dicey situations; it’s not surprising to discover she once had a fling with her boss Trevor, a revelation which makes for awkwardness when the three start hanging out.
While Results doesn’t follow standard genre tropes by forming a love triangle and pitting the three characters against each other, the film’s alternative isn’t necessarily better. An unlikely circle of friendship develops too conveniently, and no one is held accountable for their actions. It’s far-fetched enough that Kat would make a move on Danny in the first place, but it’s worse when she’s quick to forgive him for every mistake. Even more implausible is the dynamic between Trevor and Danny. Their polarizing personalities and shared love interest in Kat make them perfect rivals, and yet they become best friends despite any convincing logic.
The characters found in Results are well-developed, each with their own complicated backstories and unique personalities. Danny’s attempts to fix any situation with money is performed with just the right amount of comic delivery from Corrigan. Smulders is excellent as Kat, the disciplined but self-sabotaging romantic who trusts people a little too much. And Pearce is surprisingly the least impressive of the bunch, he’s so grounded compared to the others he ends up flattening them all out.
Unfortunately, Bujalski has difficultly using the combined skills of his cast to form a meaningful story. He goes through all the trouble of detailing these characters, but then doesn’t take them anywhere. And without sparks of chemistry or cohesion, the talented individual performances feel wasted. Whatever it’s attempting, Results fails to utilize its awkward scenarios and abundant talent to add pep to a stagnant romantic comedy scenario.