Cooper Raiff’s Cha Cha Real SmoothWhile it isn’t groundbreaking in the coming of age realm, the story of a 22 year-old who sets out to find self-worth through a quest for self-worth hits the heartstrings and doesn’t let go. While the film’s success is not all that impressive, the outstanding performances of Dakota Johnson and Vanessa Burghardt help overcome Raiff’s flaws.
Raiff plays Andrew, a 22 year-old New Jersey resident whose plans to travel to Barcelona with his girlfriend following college have been canceled. He lives with his stepdad, Brad Garrett, and his mother (Leslie Mann), while he works at a food court in a mall. Andrew meets Dimino Johnson (Johnson) at a Bar Mitzvah celebration with David. Dimino is a young mom who stays close to Lola (Burghardt), her autistic daughter. Andrew helps Domino reach the dance floor with Lola, which motivates him to get a second job. “party starter.”Andrew is becoming closer to Lola and Domino, first as Lola’s babysitter, then as a possible love interest for Domino. This all quickly goes wrong when Domino marries Joseph Castillo, the man her parents own.
Raiff’s performance is charming as Andrew. He has all the charm of Andrew down. It is admirable that he chose to surround himself with talented people, even though he is aware of the fact that they can mask his tendency to be a little too adorable. Johnson is his greatest support in that regard. This role is so easy for her. Raiff and Johnson have a great chemistry that adds an extra layer of intimacy to their scenes. Johnson appears to have lived in Domino’s shoes. Raiff and Johnson don’t make their leads into ideal objects of desire in coming-of age movies, but that is what Raiff does with Domino.
The film’s success is also dependent on Andrew’s friendship to Lola. Raiff has bright prospects as a director, working with younger stars. It is difficult to believe Burghardt never had a professional acting career. She’s amazing in the scenes she does with Raiff. Andrew wonders if Lola and Domino are worth it if he’s helping others. But he doesn’t realize he can still make a difference while working on himself.
Problems with Cha Cha Real Smooth Johnson and Burghardt may not be present when they are. Andrew has a support system that is merely sketches. This includes his mom and Macy (Odeya rusha), who are childhood friends he shares a bed with when Domino can’t. Andrew is so likeable because of Raiff. You can’t even understand why Domino would take Joseph with him. A cardboard man if ever there was, Joseph only shows a little emotion at the end.
Cha Cha Real Smooth Raiff has high goals to break free from the Sundance quirk formula. The film doesn’t quite get to the top of the coming-of age list, because Raiff struggles to find the courage and take it in new directions. Before, we’ve seen films about young people looking for self-worth or a place in society. The Graduate. Cha Cha Real SmoothAndrew realized that it was worth taking time to be who you are before moving ahead and trying to fix your life at 22. Raiff has bright future ahead of him, and it will be exciting for us to see what he does with more unusual material. Let’s pray he also has Johnson as a star to help him bring his next characters to life. Cha Cha Real SmoothYou can stream it on Apple TV+.