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Cha Cha Real Smooth

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“Giving your heart to somebody is the scariest, most dangerous, most perplexing thing.” Domino (Dakota Johnson)

Although my experience with older women is largely with my mother, grandmother, and sister, I now feel up to date having seen Cha Cha Real Smooth. It’s a rom-com with depth—Andrew’s 22 (Cooper Riff), a bar Mitzvah party starter, and Domino’s (Dakota Johnson) 29 with a child. He falls for her, she likes him, and her fiancé has something to think about.

It could have been a miserable mess of conflicting passions, but writer/director/star Raiff continually charms everyone, both other characters and the audience with his engaging people skills and overwhelming love of just about everything. His affection for Domino, who, waiting for her fiancé to return from Chicago, seems like a pure love devoid of entanglements, existing as if it touched no one else. Except for a little experiential gulf between them.

Parallel to the main romance is Andrew’s coaching his younger brother David (Evan Assante) into his first kiss. Not only are his instructions amusing, but his ill-informed advice reinforces the central motif of Andrew clumsily wooing Domino. Not that there’s anything wrong with either engagement; it’s just that these enterprises are eventually seen as better ripening themselves with just a little push from hormones and adventure.

As most rom-coms work out nicely for the polar opposite lovers, it’s refreshing to see one where both the romance and the disappointments co-exist with such uncertainties that even the most seasoned movie buff will be unable to predict the denouement.

Cha Cha Real Smooth is streaming on Apple TV and in theaters. It’s still time to see it as an example of what low-key, quality filmgoing can be like in the summer. Real Smooth.

Cha Cha Real Smooth

Director: Cooper Raiff (Shithouse)

Screenplay: Raiff, et al.

Cast: Raiff, Dakota Johnson (Lost Child)

Run Time: 1h 47m

Rating: R

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts NPR’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics as well as podcasts Back Talk and Double Take out of WCBE 90.5 FM. Contact him at JohnDeSando52@gmail.com

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, is host of WCBE's programs It's Movie Time and Cinema Classics, and the podcasts Back Talk and Double Take. Contact him at johndesando52@gmail.com.