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The movie definitely has things going for it, but it hardly ever takes the good ideas in the script and runs with them, which results in a film that emotionally doesn't go the distance.

Maybe my mistake was to believe all the chatter about Cha Cha Real Smooth being the hidden gem of 2022 when I went in, but while I wanted to be swept away by the well-meaning movie, I hardly ever was.

Part of the reason is a story that recycles old dramedy tropes instead of doing something novel with them. A twenty-something manchild who is forced to grow up when he encounters an older woman out of his league and her autistic daughter? It's all a little too emotionally forced and unconvincingly quirky.

The rhythm and flow of Cha Cha Real Smooth also is strangly off, with editing that cuts to the next scene unsettlingly quickly at times, sapping the film of momentum and never allowing the characters time for quiet contemplation in between the plot.

The actors are a bit of a mixed bag as well. Dakota Johnson makes for an excellent, relatable love interest, with more nuances than these characters usually have in romcoms. Lead actor Cooper Raiff (also the writer and director) doesn't have the necessary charms to help you tolerate his clunky character demeanor however.

All of the above might be a rather harsh verdict on a movie that actually is a decent diversion if you go into it without high expectations. Still, a true hidden gem Cha Cha Real Smooth will never be.

release: 2022

director: Cooper Raiff

starring: Cooper Raiff, Dakota Johnson, Raúl Castillo, Odeya Rush


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