The gimmick plot. The use of a narrative trick to keep the plot moving such as friends bonding over the course of the day (“Dazed and Confused”), the perils of working at a crappy job (“Clerks”) or an action movie using a fighting tournament as the primary storyline (“Bloodsport”, “Kickboxer”, “The Quest”, “Kumite”…Ok any Jean-Claude Van Damme movie) is a time honored film technique, in some cases successful, in most cases not. John Gallagher’s “Cupidity” is an example of the latter, an extended riff on dating services that despite its best intentions never manages to take off.
James (Gilmartin), a garbage man/poet, upon taking the advice of his best friend Stevie (Steve Stanulis) decides the best way to keep current girlfriend Bethany (Bethany Emerson) is to act like the typical alpha male in order to keep her interested. Seeing how most guys are a******s Bethany is quick to break up, leaving James alone. Desperate to find love again, James turns to a questionable dating service where he encounters romantic hijinx. The core idea here of a shady dating service has loads of comic potential, but Gallagher and company rely too heavily on the concept and not enough upon delivery.
The girls that James encounters are an endless supply of cliches ranging from prude to stalker. At 90 minutes the film seems to drag seeing how there is no narrative momentum, no guiding story to endear James to the audience. James listens to Stevie’s inane advice despite the fact that 1. the advice is horrendous and 2. Stevie’s a total jerk. When James manages to find a date that seems interested in discussing the arts all he can do is try and make out with her. James is the hero only because he is mostly surrounded by people who are either crazier or more clueless than he is. This is not to say the film doesn’t have it’s moments, inspired bits such as James’ stalker having a stalker all her own are welcome bits of zaniness but are few and far between.
When the end credits reveal that most of the story was improvised it is no real surprise seeing how rough the film comes off. Gallagher and company have comic gold at their fingertips, but would benefit from attacking their subject with more structure. In the end, “Cupidity” is an admirable miss that is begging to be remade by Gallagher.