On The Line

2001, Movie, 90 mins

Review

ON THE LINE
starstarstarstar
'N Sync star Justin Timberlake once told a reporter, "We just want to evolve with our core audience. That's what the Stones did." On the basis of this fairly lame, John Hughes-esque romantic comedy starring Timberlake's groupmates Lance Bass and Joey Fatone, however, one thing can safely be said: Fat chance. It doesn't help, of course, that the story is light years beyond cliché. Kevin (Bass) is a Windy City advertising exec who meets the charming Abbey (Emmanuelle Chriqui) on the subway and immediately bonds with her, courtesy of their shared love of architecture and the Chicago Cubs. Unfortunately, he's something of a wuss, so he neglects to get her name or phone number. Next thing you know (and before you can say "plot contrivance"), Kevin is plastering the town with "Are you the girl?" posters that make him a media sensation, thanks to tabloid reporter Brady (Dan Montgomery), who has an ax to grind that dates back to their days together in high school. (Kevin stole Brady's prom date). The requisite wackiness then ensues, with lots of gimmicks lifted from other, better movies, including the obligatory bit where Kevin puts up what one might think (were one thinking in terms of the real world) were prohibitively expensive billboards. It goes without saying that the star-crossed lovers eventually get together for a big smooch witnessed by every Chicagoan in walking distance of a TV set. This all might have been mildly palatable with a more charming leading man but, sad to say, the movie doesn't have the decency to offer one. Let's be blunt: Bass can't really act. When called on to convey any sort of emotion, he mostly relies on a sort of deer-in-the-headlights expression, and he has an alarming habit of scrunching up his face up while screaming "What?" whenever anyone asks him a question. Fortunately, groupmate Fatone is rather better as a second-rate garage rocker (with a little work, he could become the poor man's Jack Black) and the supporting cast — which includes Jerry Stiller and the god-like Al Green (who performs a few of his classic hits during a club scene) — help deflect your attention from the colossal lack of charisma at the movie's center. leave a comment --Steve Simels

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