by George Wolf
“When was the last time you went on a date?”
“What day is it?”
That’s an amusing bit, and a great example of the wit that Slow Learners leans on to try and elevate a strikingly unoriginal premise.
Jeff (Adam Palley) and Anne (Sarah Burns) are desperate and dateless. He has women tell him he looks like a “lesbian newscaster” while she needs friends to remind her not to wear “the cat sweater.”
They’re buddies! They can’t get together because, you know, they just don’t think of each other that way! It would be weird…nervous laughter…ewww!
So of course they hatch a plan to help each other break out of their respective ruts, and before long Jeff is juggling more women than he can handle and Anne is finally catching the eye of that hottie who was always ignoring her. But still, they’re just not finding happiness, what ever will they do?
It is nice that for once, the can’t-find-lovers don’t look like Anne Hathaway or Jake Gyllenhaal. Palley makes you squint because he might be Jimmy Kimmel and Burns seems like that new SNL cast member you can’t name. They’re perfectly fine looking and likable enough, just not matinee idols, which becomes ironic when you think of the possibilities that the film leaves unexplored.
In his debut screenplay, writer Matt Serwood ignores the satire potential for a straightforward rom-com, managing consistent smiles, if only a couple laugh out loud moments. Directors Don Argott and Sheena M. Joyce, documentary vets behind the excellent The Art of the Steal, seem equally tentative about branching out. Too many scenes reek of improv class, while many production elements seem better suited for a small screen sit com.
Slow Learners is all in good fun, I guess, but you wonder if the effort might have been saved for something a little less stale.