“Cha Cha Real Smooth” (US Rated R)
Cast: Cooper Raiff, Dakota Johnson, Leslie Mann, Brad Garrett, Raul Castillo
Where to watch: Apple TV+
Tired of all the dinosaurs, wizards, warlocks, and the animated everythings that the summer blockbuster season brings to theaters?
Well, a little indie-film that got some positive buzz at January’s Sundance Film Festival is certainly going against the grain for releases at this time of year. Debuting last week Friday on Apple TV+, “Cha Cha Real Smooth” feels like something you would normally see later in the year.
It’s written and directed by star Cooper Raiff, who plays 22-year old Andrew, fresh out of college and stuck at his New Jersey home without a clear path forward. He soon begins working as a party starter for bar/bat mitzvahs. He strikes up a unique friendship with a young mom (Dakota Johnson) and her autistic teenage daughter.
This coming of age story seems like an interesting twist on “The Graduate”, if the Dustin Hoffman’s Benjamin Braddock character were actually interested in Anne Bancroft’s Mrs. Robinson.
Johnson, as the older woman here, continues to impress, as she further distances herself from the ridiculous “Fifty Shades” films. Following up on last year’s “The Lost Daughter”, she seems to have a knack playing tragic figures – complex and psychologically damaged – and is this picture’s most interesting character.
With a relatively decent supporting cast, this is a decent enough story. Sweet but not overly sappy. It is relatively light (some might say “lightweight”), but nothing exciting. It is merely “pleasant”, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Consider “Cha Cha Real Smooth” a palate cleanser between all the summer noisemakers. After which, you may be re-energized enough to say “bring on the rest of the killer robot alien gods!”
• Dwight Strachan is the host/producer of “Morning Blend” on Guardian Radio and station manager. He is a television producer and writer, and an avid TV history and film buff. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on twitter @morningblend969.