Despite its immediately apparent failings as a movie – in terms of having no discernable narrative structure, a complete lack of compelling visuals and a cast of characters unworthy of an audience's time, let alone emotional investment – 'Slightly Single in L.A.' still manages to be the sort of film that even terrible sitcoms snicker and point at, long after they've been canceled and their casts split between stints on 'Celebrity Fit Club' and 'Celebrity Rehab.'
The reference to such dismal, lurid and exploitative reality garbage is notable as writer-director Christie Will has clearly taken some of her other professional experiences – Will has served as a producer on D-level celebrity love quests like 'A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila,' as well as noticeably over written "reality" dreck like 'Tool Academy' – and used them as the springboard for her latest flick about the romantic trials and tribulations of young, upwardly mobile and incredibly phony professionals in Los Angeles.
But rather than examine the seemingly inexhaustible supply of shallow people willing to humiliate themselves on television for a shot at 15 minutes of fame (unless their name is Hilton or Kardashian, apparently), and how the ubiquity of insincerity for the purpose of superficial recognition affects the way people connect with one another, Will has decided to make an insular – perhaps even semi-autobiographical – romantic comedy about a young woman named Dale (Lacey Chabert), working as a producer on a disgusting sounding reality program and her inability to find a long-lasting, meaningful relationship amongst the throngs of fame-seekers populating the City of Angels.
From the opening scene – which offers three flavors on infidelity that directly contribute to Dale relocating to Los Angeles and giving up on love – it's clear that this is going to be a long and arduous voyage through banality, where completely uninteresting, cookie-cutter characters have prosaic conversations that lead nowhere. There's a semblance of the same overwrought, navel-gazing, self-absorbed dialogue that proliferated and briefly came to define independent cinema in the '90s, but without any of the style and panache of even the worst of those films. It's as though Will has never had a genuine conversation in her life and this is simply her best guess at what people talking with one another might actually sound like. Making matters worse, Will has filled her film with characters who are so thinly drawn and hollow it would be an insult to clichéd characters everywhere to call them clichéd.
Despite having given up on relationships at the beginning of the film, Dale spends most of her time pining over a sleazy Italian photographer played by former MTV VJ Simon Rex – who appears to have learned all of the subtle nuances of an Italian accent by spending hours and hours playing Mario Kart. "It's-a me, Simon Rex's horrible-a accent!" It's obvious that he's doing a parody, but it's still so poorly done and so stilted that even the self-mockery of it all comes off as inept and mostly just sad. Lost in her unconvincing woe, Dale fails to acknowledge up-and-coming Los Angeles musician Zach (Kip Pardue) and the obvious romantic intentions he has for her. Meanwhile, she has to balance the upcoming nuptials of her neurotic, marriage-obsessed friend Jill (Haylie Duff) to Drew (Chris Kattan), deal with her live-in BFF Seven (Jonathan Bennett) and the fame-fixated Hallie (Jenna Dewan), who has taken a liking to Zach – or his rising star, at any rate.
Wondering how any of this comes together into a cohesive story? Well, I've seen the movie and I'm still wondering about that myself. Even with an abundance of overused tropes and hackneyed observance of rom-com traditions, 'Slightly Single in L.A.' fails to be romantic or comedic in any way shape or form. In fact, the only laugh that actually comes from the dialogue is during the obligatory heart-to-heart between forlorn lovers, when Kip Pardue says without a hint of irony, "I'm not going to die on you; I'm not like your mother or your father." Oh, did I mention that Dale's parents are dead? Well, they are, and aside from being a perfunctory addition to her character, there's never any indication of why that information is important or what it means to Dale and her inability to have a meaningful relationship. Maybe if the ghosts of her dead parents were forcing her to exclusively date detestable men it might have some bearing on her development, but instead it just winds up being another example of unnecessary, manipulative information meant to add meaning and depth that ultimately does neither.
'Slightly Single in L.A.' features the kind of bland, uninteresting filmmaking of those who make movies not because they have a compelling story or idea, or even a unique way to present a warmed over idea; it's the kind of filmmaking that gets done simply because it can. The quality of the material suggests that just because you can do something, doesn't mean you necessarily should.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Slightly Single in L.A.' is a single (no pun) 25GB disc in the standard slim keepcase. There are a few previews before the top menu, but, like the movie itself, they can be skipped.
Although it was shot without a modicum of style and with the kind of lighting that is normally reserved for less reputable (but far more popular) forms of entertainment, the image quality of 'Slightly Single in L.A.' isn't nearly as bad as the way in which the image is presented. If you can get past the bland, lifeless cinematography and sterile looking sets, there is actually a decent amount of fine detail on display that is reinforced by a vivid color palette.
Contrast levels are pretty good as well, though you'd be hard pressed to tell, as there's hardly ever a scene in which shadow or darkness plays a role. In fact, even the nighttime, or nightclub scenes are so brightly lit the only discernable area of black is in the actor's ensembles. Still, despite an abundance of variation in the composition of the shots, there is a noticeably high level of contrast that has a decent amount of gradation between the lights and darks. The only problem is that the image is so clean and so well lit most of the time that it comes off looking a bit flat in places and that lack of depth often times makes an already uninteresting image come off looking all the more so.
Like the picture, the sound on 'Slightly Single in L.A.' is perfectly adequate for what is being presented. There is an abundance of off-brand popular music that plays through much of the film and typically acts as the bridge between one scene and the next, or as a cue to the audience that something emotional or funny has recently transpired. All in all, this sort of stuff is balanced well with the other elements of the sound mix and actually manages to show off some fairly decent dynamic range and use of things like subtle LFE and use of the rear channel speakers.
Despite all evidence to the contrary, this film is all about the dialogue, and for the most part, the mix does a very dependable job in bringing it to life. All of the characters are easy to hear and discernable even when other elements like the aforementioned music or the occasional sound effect come into play. There certainly could have been an extra dimension added to some scenes as the dialogue does sometimes sound a bit tinny, or like it's echoing in an empty room, but those instances are kept to a minimum.
This is a pretty basic audio mix for a low budget, poorly made film and frankly it comes off sounding far better than you'd expect.
This is the kind of movie that will leave you wondering just how it could have possibly been made. Nothing about it is remotely entertaining, interesting, or pleasant to look at. 'Slightly Single in L.A.' takes passive film going to a whole new level and seems to actively dare the viewer into sticking around until the end. Mark my words: this film is so inept at narrative structure, you'll be as surprised as I was when it decides enough is enough and simply calls it quits. Despite some decent audio and a good image, this disc would make a better coaster. Skip it.