There aren't as many romantic comedies being released as there used to be, which could be seen as a good thing to some. My biggest issue with these mushy romance flicks would be that our lead characters are rarely charming and the directors almost never attempt to alter the formulaic structure. With the given trends of these movies, they're usually marketed towards female audiences. Every now and then, the genre provides a feature that appeals to both genders, such as (500) Days of Summer. Unfortunately, these motion pictures are considered the exceptions to the rule. Countless romance flicks try to relate to their audiences by following an everyday person. However, their love stories are so predictable, that it's difficult to become invested in the story or its characters. Dorfman in Love could have been much worse than it is, but there isn't any attempt made to stray from the generic romantic comedy structure.
Deb Dorfman (Sara Rue) feels trapped in her own life, as she finds herself to be the caretaker of her unappreciative family. With her mother deceased, Deb must look after her father, Burt Dorfman (Elliott Gould). However, he's making her life difficult, as he's incredibly sarcastic and has never entirely supported Deb's choices and hard work. This young single woman desperately wants her own life, so she accepts the request from her long-time crush, Jay Cleary (Johann Urb), to cat sit and unpack in his downtown Los Angeles loft. However, she still isn't able to escape her family, as they continue to bother her. During her stay, she meets an attractive man, Cookie (Haaz Sleiman). He spends a lot of time with Deb, as the two quickly develop a strong friendship. This stressed woman finds herself confused about her feelings towards Jay and Cookie.
Writer Wendy Kout's plot doesn't necessarily provide very much room for any variety. The film begins with interactions between Deb and her father, Burt. There are numerous attempts made to be witty and humorous, but it won't even cause a chuckle. The father-daughter relationship should have been more genuine. Burt is the closest this film gets to being funny, but his character comes across as feeling too scripted and hollow. Audiences are never led to believe that any of these characters are real people. Dorfman in Love continues along the predictable path it set itself on, especially when it comes to Deb's family situation and love life. The script quickly nudges its viewers, as it heavily hints at who Deb will end up choosing. This destroys the emotional impact that the picture tries to convey through the third act. It's difficult to become invested in a film that essentially spoils itself within the beginning of the running time.
Dorfman in Love's characters are thinner than a sheet of paper. These one-dimensional characters lack the depth that would allow us to actually care about them. Deb Dorfman is most certainly likable, and at times charming, but this doesn't spread through the remainder of the roles. Burt is the cookie-cutter father who doesn't pay enough attention to his daughter's feelings, while jay and Cookie fulfill the stereotypical love interest roles. Since this wasn't enough, the film even explores Deb's brother, Daniel (Jonathan Chase), and his issues. Even though Deb is the most likable person in this picture, the audience will already be irritated with her inability to stand up for herself. Her growth is far too linear and never gets the opportunity to escape clichés. Those of you looking for a screenplay that will color outside of the lines will have to keep looking, since writer Wendy Kout seems to be afraid to do so.
The performances might not be able to change the flaws found in the script, but they perform better than one would think. Sara Rue is delightful in the role of Deb Dorfman. Despite the mediocre dialogue she's been given, she still manages to make this character more likable than it would have been otherwise. Elliott Gould plays Burt Dorfman quite well. He is convincing and keeps our attention, as he always does. Haaz Sleiman performs in the role of Cookie. Sleiman might not deliver the strongest performance out of this cast, but he has a solid amount of chemistry with Rue on screen. Surprisingly, the majority of these actors convey these characters rather well.
This might not be a horrible romantic comedy, but it walks an incredibly safe line. Audiences are being fed yet another generic story with multiple one-dimensional characters. Our lead is likable, but this won't be enough for viewers to relate to her. We already know which man she will choose before the first act comes to a close. Despite the fact that this is supposed to a comedy, it fails to deliver a single funny situation or line of dialogue. Writer Wendy Kout struggles to interest audiences with the story or its characters. Dorfman in Love is just another straw in the hay stack. Rent it.