Brittany Snow and Sam Richardson star in the refreshing and unique romantic comedy Hooking Up, on digital and on demand March 20.
Darla (Snow) is a sex-crazed columnist for a fading magazine who has one last chance to prove her worth to her boss. When she meets Bailey (Richardson), a testicular cancer patient who has only ever had one sexual partner, she sees him as an opportunity to tell a good story.
And it is a good story, from director Nico Raineau and co-writer Lauren Schacher – one with surprising depth for its premise. Previous films like Friends with Benefits and No Strings Attached have explored the notion of sex without a relationship, but Hooking Up takes a different approach by creating characters with substance.
The couple embarks on a cross-country road trip to revisit her sexual history, and unbeknownst to Bailey, Darla keeps a daily blog documenting their journey. He is facing a serious health problem and figuring out what to do next, while she is fighting to keep a job that only enables her sex addiction. They’re both lying and both lonely for vastly different reasons; as Bailey realizes how sheltered and safe his life has been, Darla simultaneously ponders the consequences of living one without regard for anything but her own pleasure.
Road trip and rom-com cliches are refreshingly absent here, exploring a depth that’s missing from a lot of R-rated comedies of its kind. What could have been a contrived storyline with fake-dating tropes and the reveal of a big secret is actually raw and real. It’s a change from the “first-world problems” of so many lighthearted films – it examines cancer and addiction through the lens of endearing characters, but never takes itself too seriously. Though consistently funny and surprisingly heartfelt, Hooking Up doesn’t treat cancer or sex addiction scenario as a joke or a plot device, but the very real circumstances of living, breathing characters. Darla and Bailey make realizations about themselves as people, not just in the context of each other, but in their own individual lives. It shouldn’t be rare, but it is, and Raineau and Schacher prove that a story of this kind can be told well.
Hooking Up is effective because of its humor and honesty. While the plot might seem thin, it’s consistently interesting thanks to the comedic chops of its two delightful leads. Richardson continues the understated laughs he brought to the latter seasons of HBO’s Veep, while Snow is genuinely funny as Darla while maintaining her humanity. (I’m not just saying that because I hold out hope for an American Dreams revival.)
At a somewhat scary and unprecedented time in human history, we’re all contemplating what it means to live, work and stay safe. Hooking Up is an enjoyable and thoughtful few hours that asks those same questions. It will effortlessly take your mind off the news with a good laugh, naturally gifted lead actors and a mature humanity that has become all too rare in the romantic comedy genre.
© Georgiana E. Presecky (3/18/20) FF2 Media
Q: Does Hooking Up pass the Bechdel-Wallace test?
A: Technically, yes. Darla has conversations with her mother and female boss.