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Film Review: 'A Case of You' (aka Facebook Stalking as a Romantic Comedy)

Evan Rachel Wood and Justin Long star in 'A Case of You.' (Image: Courtesy of IFC Films.)
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When we first read the title of director Kat Corio’s (Departure Date, And While We Were Here) latest film, A Case of You, we assumed that it would incorporate the themes of—or at least feature in the soundtrack—one of our favorite Joni Mitchell songs. But we were wrong (they couldn’t get the rights): The film is basically a cautionary tale of how Facebook stalking can go awry.

Putting the whole song/film title thing aside, A Case of You’s premise is cute, honing in on the whole dating in the age of the Internet / social media. Writer Sam (Justin Long) is a loveable loser who’s crushing on his quirky local barista Birdie (Evan Rachel Wood). He finds her online profile and creates a persona that resembles her dream guy—taking up random hobbies from rock climbing to ballroom dancing just to impress her.

Long plays his adorkable archetype that we’ve seen on Galaxy Quest, Dodgeball and New Girl. He’s at his best when he’s trying to play cool, even when he’s decked out in sequins for ballroom dancing and no one else is. Wood, who we’re accustomed to seeing in heavier roles, stands out as the love interest, bringing all her charm and charisma to a character that didn’t have much going for her except her “quirkiness.” Birdie could have been annoying in less-skilled hands. Great cameos throughout by Sam Rockwell, Vince Vaughn, Sienna Miller and others prove that so much can be done with even the smallest of roles. Peter Dinklage as a gay barista and Brendan Fraser as Birdie’s over-the-top ex nearly steal the movie.

While most of the time the film straddles the line of middling romantic-comedy fare—we’ve seen better (Love Actually, Roxanne) and much, much worse (insert a Katherine Heigel / Jen Aniston / Matthew McConaughey / Dane Cook title here), A Case of You definitely turns a corner during the last third of the film. And not in the right direction.

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Our biggest beef is with the script, co-written by first-time writer Long with his brother Christian Long and Keir O'Donnell, who also stars in the film. Though contrived from the outset, the plot, at first, is at least relatable and mildly amusing. (Let s/he who has never stalked a secret or not-so-secret crush on Facebook cast the first stone.) But what we couldn’t buy was the abruptness—an almost Jekyll/Hyde change—in Sam after Birdie admits that she’s into him. He begins to question whether she likes him or his Facebook alter ego. Well, duh. What do you expect, Sam? His anger at Birdie is too harsh and completely out of character.

Maybe in the end there were too many cooks in the kitchen, but A Case of You comes off as a disjointed and a little lacking in both romance and comedy. We're not sure if even Joni Mitchell could have saved this one.

A Case of You opens today.