“Everything For A Reason” is not only the title of this romantic comedy by writer/director Vlas Parlapanides, but it’s also the mantra used throughout the film. However, by the end of this keenly observed and mostly witty outing, one has to wonder what exactly happened in this movie and for what reason.
We are immediately introduced to Manny (Dominic Comperatore), an aspiring writer who lives with his Greek parents and brother (who also seems too old to be living at home) in scenic, beachside New Jersey. After getting the obligatory romantic-comedy speel of “you’ll never find the right girl” from his mother, we segue nicely into the introduction of Eve (Erin Neill). Eve comes home to the echoing sound of butt spanking and finds her boyfriend being rode by the town slut. Thus Eve becomes the obligatory romantic-comedy “girl scorned.” She is immediately rescued by her sister Joanne (TROMA films alum Tiffany J. Shepis) who takes her out and gets her drunk. Shepis and Neill are good together and are believable as sisters, even though Joanne is somewhat of a tramp and Eve is the exact opposite. And, Shepis can act. She doesn’t go too over the top as a bad girl and shows some chops Troma guru Lloyd Kaufman had no need for.
Once thoroughly plastered, Eve and Manny’s eyes meet across the bar in a quite funny scene that shows why lightweights shouldn’t drink shots. Manny forgives the sloppy first impression and his suave, charming ways eventually win Eve over. Neill and Comperatore, are good actors who have an easy opportunity to play the typical roles of commitment phobic boy and once bitten-twice shy girl. Both add dimension to their characters and allow them to be individuals, which is a good idea since their characters are the ones we are forced to grip tightly to as a way-too-big cast of characters is rolled out.
Manny’s friend Teddy (Matthew Aibel) has also been burnt by his long time girlfriend Jenny (Hogan Gorman) and through a hilarious phone conversation in which Jenny thinks Teddy is her new beau, we find that yes, Teddy and Jenny are “through for good this time.” You know what that means…we are going to see some sort of reconciliation. However creative (and it is creative) Teddy is at getting Jenny back, I thought Manny and Eve were the ones we were supposed to worry about. But wait, there’s more!
Teddy and Manny’s friend, Mike (Michæl Mathis) is thrown into the fray and not only doesn’t he seem like the kind of guy who would ever hang around with them, he really serves no purpose in the film other than to flesh out a few plot twists. He starts to date Joanne, he has to cleverly avoid mixing two girls at a wedding, he aids Teddy in his plan to win back Jenny. Thus we get to the major problem with “Everything For A Reason”: what the heck is going on and for what reason?
Manny and Eve’s relationship plays along smoothly with a really nice plot twist concerning Eve and her sexual history. However, Manny’s reaction doesn’t really propel the story forward. Then, when Parlapanides throws another sexual plot twist into the story, we are confused on how to react. On the other hand, Teddy and Jenny’s relationship seems tacked on for no reason and while both actors are great, we really have no reason to care what happens to them. The scenes of Teddy and his pining for Jenny are funny and keenly observed, but in the end, pointless.
Plot points and characters loop in and out of this movie. Some have no beginning others no end and still more no reason for being there. Although the film starts off with a seemingly writers blocked Manny trying to write, his writing is rarely mentioned again until it pops up again as merely another plot twist.
However, Parlapanides is funny, observant and creative. He has some lines of dialogue that only a single person in a small town can relate with. He also has some truly classic scenes including the first time Eve and Manny hook up. Also, all the actors in this film will go on to be in other features. While their characters, for the most part, are cliché the portrayals were not. Yet, as I walked away from “Everything For A Reason” I couldn’t help but feel confused and as if I were left to tie up all the loose ends myself. Which begs the obvious question: If everything happens for a reason, why didn’t “Everything For A Reason” end with me knowing exactly what that reason was?