The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan

"TEMPS"

Temps

I had a curious non-reaction to Temps. This romantic comedy seems geared (to use terminology I intensely dislike) toward Millennials or members of the so-called Generation Y, depending on how you choose to define those absurd labels. It's a film about dating geared toward people who are doing it in the modern day and age. My generation (Generation X) has already had its movies on this subject, Reality Bites being chief among them, and subsequently, there was nothing here for a happily-married, forty-something film critic. The performances are good, and one or two bits evoke a laugh, yet I watched passively, with no real feeling toward any of it.

That's a problem, because genuinely good movies make you relate, even if you don't have anything in common with the characters up on the screen.

Grant Rosenmeyer plays Jefferson, a fairly aimless young man who works temp jobs so that he can earn enough money to go on ski trips with his goofball best friend Curtis (Reid Ewing). Being a temp means never really having to be tied down. This philosophy also applies to his romantic life. Jefferson is content to keep it casual. He thinks that is what he's doing when he hooks up with fellow temp Stephanie (Pretty Little Liars' Lindsey Shaw). But then they start having a “reverse relationship,” getting to know one another after being sexually intimate. Stephanie thinks there's definitely something worth exploring. Jefferson doesn't know how to have a grown-up relationship, though, leading him to repeatedly risk screwing it all up.

Temps bills itself as “a NSFW look at modern day love and commitment.” By “not safe for work,” one can assume it is referring to the sex scenes, which don't necessarily push the boundaries of onscreen copulation, but do realistically capture the unbridled lust that drives many people in their twenties. The movie is on point about the fact that, for some people, the dating order has been reversed, with sex coming first and then, if it's good, an actual courtship. One of the wittier scenes finds the brand new couple going on a date to a sex shop to purchase a variety of bedroom toys.

The movie also boasts strong central performances from its two leads. Rosenmeyer avoids the usual cliches of cinematic commitment-phobes to create a portrait of a young man who fears substance, despite knowing it would probably be good for him. (The word “temps” refers not just to his status as a temporary worker, but also to his attitude toward girlfriends.) Shaw is just as good, showing how Stephanie's personal and professional ambitions collide. She wants it all, isn't afraid to go for it, and is frustrated when things don't go as smoothly as she'd like, given all the effort.

On the flip side, Temps is tailored pretty specifically to an audience in its twenties, meaning that it doesn't really say anything new for those outside the target demo. Guys are sometimes afraid of commitment. Women want – and deserve – relationships and successful careers. People bring baggage from past relationships into new ones. Sex alone isn't enough to sustain a romance. This is all information that will seem awfully familiar to many. Furthermore, the screenplay from Tim Bennett-Huxtable doesn't know what to do with its supporting characters. A subplot involving Curtis wanting to become a dancer feels like it was ripped out of a bad sitcom. Another, having to do with Jefferson's dazed and confused father (The Wire's Chris Bauer), is supposed to clue us in to the origins of his dysfunction, but it, too, seems more like a half-sketched concept than a fully fleshed-out reality.

Those are admittedly small portions. The heart of the story is the Jefferson/Stephanie union, as well as the ups and downs it takes. Probably 75% of the film is focused on them, and it tries very hard to be a sincere exploration of dating complications in the 21st century. Honestly, I think some people will identify with Temps a whole lot more than I did. If you're of a certain age, it may speak to you. If you're beyond that age, it'll most likely seem innocuous, but also very, very obvious.

( out of four)


Temps is unrated, but contains language, nudity, and strong sexual content. The running time is 1 hour and 25 minutes.


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