A loving ode to being an adult but still having no clue about the world and life, Cooper Raiff’s Cha Cha Real Smooth puts weighty themes behind a fun story led by a winning ensemble.
Recent college graduate Andrew (Cooper Raiff) has no clue what to do with his life, so he moves back home with his mom (Leslie Mann), step-dad (Brad Garrett), and his brother David (Evan Assante). Accompanying David to a bar mitzvah, Andrew connects with Domino (Dakota Johnson), a young mother with an autistic daughter Lola (Vanessa Burghardt).
Young and aimless, Andrew finds his calling as a hype man to kickstart bar mitzvahs. Along the way, he also acts as Lola’s babysitter while also attempting to sway Domino away from her seemingly unmatched fiancé Joseph (Raul Castillo).
The film hit me perfectly in the right spots. Maybe it’s my age, or my family situation, but it felt specifically catered to my sensibilities.
Raiff touches on some lofty themes of family, life choices, immaturity, and passionate love. More than anything, there is a disconnect between Andrew and Domino outside of their romantic connection. They are both at drastically different points in their lives. While Andrew believes “true love,” Domino knows life is more complex than that.
Raiff is a likeable presence, though he is perfectly aware of his character’s immaturity. As the director, you would expect Raiff to portray himself as a saintly figure without flaws, but he has the self-awareness to recognize he is not the person the audience should be rooting for. Johnson is the perfect enigma of a woman. While Andrew has no idea who he is, Domino knows exactly where she stands in life. She engages in this fantasy, but never comes across as manipulative. It’s my favorite of Johnson’s performances.
Burghardt is able to sidestep many of the autism clichés and shows less is more. Mann is the heart of the film and may give my favorite performance in the film. Assante also gives a delightful performance.
Raiff is proving himself to be a new and exciting filmmaking voice. While some might be looking for what he does next, this should be the film that announces him as the potential director of his generation.
Cha Cha Real Smooth is now streaming on Apple TV+
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