Film

In Playing It Cool, Chris Evans Proves He’s Hollywood’s Most Charming Leading Man

by

Rom-com formula is given an exuberant meta-kitchen-sink overhaul in Playing It Cool, about a screenwriter (Chris Evans) who doesn’t believe in love, which proves troublesome when he’s hired to write a romantic-comedy script — and then meets a philanthropic woman (Michelle Monaghan) who rocks his world.

Self-consciously referring to itself at every turn, Justin Reardon’s film is awash in narration, flashbacks, animated vignettes, costume-heavy fantasy sequences, dance numbers, camera tricks, CG effects, graphical text, narrative leaps in time and location, and all manner of other clichéd devices, including Evans’s ribald banter with his weird-but-cool best friends.

Fortunately, those sidekicks are played by a host of uniformly funny supporting players — Topher Grace, Aubrey Plaza, Luke Wilson, Martin Starr, Philip Baker Hall (as his grandfather), and Evans’s Marvel running mate Anthony Mackie (as his agent) — who, along with adversarial Patrick Warburton and Evans’s Fantastic Four partner Ioan Gruffudd, routinely elevate the standard-issue cynicism-vs.-love scenarios with snappy ridiculousness.

Proving that its chosen genre is best when its tropes are treated with a balance of sincere sweetness and wink-wink absurdity, Playing It Cool thrives through sheer liveliness, as well as the chemistry of its perfectly paired stars — with Captain America himself, Evans, proving in the process that he may just be Hollywood’s most charming young leading man.