The confident, fun-loving a*****e. The humble, blandish nice guy. One likes to hear himself talk, the other knows how to listen. Such descriptions are fitting for any formulaic romantic comedy, but in “The Sweet Life” (Rocco Simonelli, 2003), they produce the anti-romantic comedy, a love story that guys can like.
Ever since they were kids, Frankie (Robert Mobley) has absconded the affections of every girl that his brother Michael (James Lorinz) has liked and continues to do so into adulthood. “The Sweet Life” follows Michael as he tries to even the score. Incorporating their different personalities into the plot, Simonelli’s film represents of the assumption that nice guys always finish last. Michael and Frankie subscribe to contrasting philosophies regarding the opposite sex. Michael believes that conversation is the way to get to know a woman, but Frankie maintains that sleeping with one is the key to her true nature.
Romantic comedies that are made for women feature gorgeous lovebirds that overcome the serious but manageable forces keeping them apart. Viewers are as likely to envy and resent the protagonists as admire them. “The Sweet Life,” however, is comprised of ill-dressed, extremely unconventionally attractive males; superficially tough chicks, and characters that don’t provoke jealousy. Moreover, the film’s conflict (whether Michael’s kindness can triumph over Frankie’s charming but jerky ways) does not pose as much of a threat to a happy ending as it would in a chick flick.
If Simonelli set out to make a romantic comedy for guys, he’s found the right ingredients and proves that he knows his target audience. Self-aware, inconspicuously funny, and corny without the cheese, “The Sweet Life” teaches that a nice guy can’t win forever, but an acerbic, bitter one will always bounce back.