Language : English
Director : Cooper Raiff
Writers : Cooper Raiff
Cast : Cooper Raiff, Dakota Johnson, Vanessa Burghardt, Leslie Mann, Evan Assante
Genre : Comedy | Drama
Streaming on AppleTV+.
There’s a common belief that your 20s is the most defining phase of your life. It’s a period when you are expected to get independent and exposed to life. It’s also a decade where the world wants you to figure out your true calling. And it’s also a phase where you end up meeting numerous individuals who stay on for the rest of your life. But as most of you may know, none of this is as easy as it sounds, and might take a while to tick all the above-mentioned boxes. Cha Cha Real Smooth, the sophomore venture from Cooper Raiff, tracks this specific journey of a 22-year-old named Andrew, played by the director himself, within a short timeline.
Right off the bat, this is one of the most beautiful coming-of-age dramas that I’ve watched in a while. Wake Up Sid is a film that I rate very high among films in this genre and Cha Cha Real Smooth shares a lot of similar vibes with the 2009 Bollywood flick. There’s something very likable about the way relationships are portrayed here. Be it Andrew’s interaction with his family, especially the one with his mother, or the more sophisticated bond he shares with an autistic girl and her mother, are both equally charming and pleasing to watch. Most of these sequences are developed through dialogues and it creates an emotional warmth and intimacy between the characters which transcends the screen and connects with us, the audience too. Largely shot at night, the movie runs through the same set of events throughout the narrative but each time we are exposed to a gradually evolving Andrew and his realizations. Rather than looking to place him in a position where he has everything sorted for himself, the screenplay gently tracks a small phase where he begins the process of treading a more mature path. In a way, Cha Cha Real Smooth becomes everything that ‘The Tender Bar’ (2021) failed to achieve.
Copper Raiff is brilliant both as the leading man and the writer. With his innocence oozing performance, he instantly makes you fall in love with the character. When Dakota Johnson’s character Domino calls him the sweetest guy she’s ever known, you will easily agree with a wry smile on your face. His chemistry with all the actors is terrific and he also effectively portrays the dilemmas of Andrew. Dakota Johnson is equally fantastic as a single mother who is trying to find her way back in life after being weighed down by responsibilities at an early age. Her equation with Andrew is special and the actress elegantly brings it to screen during their encounters. All of these scenes happen at night and it plays a crucial role in providing a warm texture to their bonding. Vanessa Burghardt essays the role of Domino’s autistic daughter and she brings a unique nuance to the character which is devoid of the usual stereotypes attached to such roles. Her bond with both Andrew and Domino is endearing. Special mention to Leslie Mann for her charming show as Andrew’s mother.
On the whole, Cha Cha Real Smooth is a must-watch for its matured and sensitive depiction of different human relationships within the mold of a coming-of-age drama.
Verdict : 5/7 stars
- Shooting took place mainly in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
- Second feature-length movie directed by Cooper Raiff.
- The title of this movie, “Cha Cha Real Smooth,” is a lyric from the song “Cha Cha Slide” by Willie Perry Jr., better known as DJ Casper. First released in 2000, the song has become a standard at events with group or line dances, such as wedding receptions, school dances, quinceañeras, and bar/bat mitzvahs (which are what this movie’s plot centers around).