The Manhattan of writer-director J.C. Khoury’s bro-centric romantic comedy All Relative is one where bored housewives spit wine into the mouths of their playboys as a seduction tactic, where twentysomethings wait a month and a parental meeting before having sex, and where iPhones exist but no one uses them to post photos of their significant others on Facebook or Instagram.
As the title hints, Harry (Jonathan Sadowski), a Columbia graduate student, is in for a sexual romp strongly reminiscent of Benjamin Braddock’s in The Graduate. He recovers from a turn as the cuckolded fiancé by becoming “the other man.” But, as his best friend advises him in the opening monologue, Harry just needs to think of romance as the French do — a journey, not a destination.
But unlike its predecessor in the grad-student-fucks-MILF-but-ultimately-finds-age-appropriate-love genre, All Relative requires a strenuous suspension of disbelief. As Harry struggles through this surreality toward love, his mother-daughter love triangle yields few laughs and instead delivers disappointing moments, like Harry pausing a beat to generate the perfect comeback, then sneering, “Whatever.”
He’s surrounded by cardboard women, although Connie Nielsen does her best to prop up her seductress character, Maren, against dismissive writing from Khoury. Maren vacillates between a cool, non-controlling hookup and an aging mother who can’t resist meddling. She’s the butt of all jokes, and ultimately succumbs quietly to her unfulfilled sex life. But, in the world of All Relative, that’s OK — Harry got to bone a MILF and date her daughter, and the fantasy is all that matters.