What Love Is (2008)
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Critic Reviews for What Love Is
Shrill, abrasive, cartoonishly over-the-top and badly titled.
It could be that What Love Is is what lovers of either gender can like, thanks to equal parts misogynistic machismo and locker-room girl talk, all of it tied together with just a little bit of cozy romantic reality.
Gooding is solid in the leading-man role. He has some of the best lines, and he's pretty much the only character you could stand to hang out with in real life.
Now and then there is something strangely right about films this defiantly wrongheaded, but What Love Is never rises above the leaden, overbearing qualities of Callahan's dialogue and staging.
What Love Is overflows with mind-numbing patter, bizarrely delivered with the arch formality of David Mamet, with the net effect of being yelled at for no reason.
Audience Reviews for What Love Is
Plot: Tom plans to surprise his girlfriend Sara with an engagement ring, and he's asked his four best friends to witness the popping of the question at his place on Valentine's night. Trouble is Sara's left him a "Dear John" letter and will be by soon to pick up her suitcases; plus, thinking it's a party, Tom's friend Sal has invited five women to come too. Cuba Gooding Jr. is great as the dumped on character who doesn't know how he's going to get his girlfriend back while Mathew Lillard was amazing as Sal, (especially in the scene about monogamy) and it`s nice to see Gina Gershon back on screen (looking hot as usual). Because it explodes stereotypical attitudes on love, sex and the games people play, the film takes the form of conversation where the characters take turns telling their story, their gripes on love and the opposite sex! First the men, then, the women! It's smart and funny and best enjoyed by those who've made a relationship mistake or two and can afford to laugh at themselves. It's a fiendishly accurate depiction of the extreme positions we take over love and sex. Watch this uninhibited movie and absorb the raw truth and wisdom, complete with the F-bombs and sexual descriptions.
Mars Callahan did a great job with Poolhall Junkies. However, his follow up film, What Love Is, is a misfire. He had a really good idea here, but didn't execute it correctly. The dialog is very good. Callahan echoes David Mamet and Ed Burn type of dialog. The film feels like a stage play. He didn't need to do fancy camera work and editing techniques in the film. I found those techniques distracting. Especially the segment, where the actresses morph into strippers and dance. To me that was not necessary at all. Some of the actors are miscast, especially Cuba Gooding Jr. and Matthew Lillard. However, Gina Gershon, Anne Heche, Mars Callahan, Sean Astin, Tamala Jones, and Shiri Appleby shine in this film. I am hoping Callahan's next film will be more like Poolhall Junkies than this film.
Good film, great performances. It felt like a play, sort of David Mamet-esque at some points.
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