It’s time to look at a film filled with lots and lots of trolling. The plot here is very similar to You’ve Got Mail and I dare say that the latter was probably heavily inspired by this one. While I would give that one the overall edge this one does handle the trolling a bit better. The main guy really leads the heroine on the whole time and does a better job of sabotaging himself. Still, the film has its weak points.
The film starts off with Jan trying to make a call but realizing that the line is being used. This has been going on for weeks now and she has had enough. The problem is that she shares a party line with a guy by the name of Brad who is a big flirt. He’s always calling various ladies at all times in the day and with how party lines work that means she can’t make a call. The party line is synchronized so effectively it is always one line and when the other picks up the phone they can immediately hear everything. They don’t even live in the same building so this is a pretty far reaching party line. Jan tries to get a solo line and to get rid of Brad from hers but it doesn’t work as he pulls the moves on the inspector. She finally decides to make an agreement that they can only use the phone on their respective half n hour. With that done she ends up meeting a nice Texan who is visiting the country and falls for him. Her maid advises Jan to make a move so she prepares to do so.
Little does Jan know that Brad has the upper hand at the moment. That’s because his best friend Jonathan likes Jan and lets enough details slip where Brad is able to figure out who she is while at a bar. He decides to play the ultimate prank by pretending to be a Texan tourist and going out with her for a while. The whole time he keeps up the Brad persona as well and likes to troll Jan a lot over the phone. Such a deception can only last for so long so Brad has to hope that Jan doesn’t take it too harshly or he’ll be in the dog house.
How much you like Brad will definitely depend on how seriously you take the trolling. After all even if it is for laughs he is completely lying to Jan so the romance isn’t 100% genuine. He’s also had a ton of girls previously so you probably doubt his sincerity as well. The good part is that his disguise does force him to play the role of a gentleman for most of his scenes. Then of course there is the fact that he completely betrayed his friend by trying to hook up with Jan so quickly. Definitely no respect for his friend there. So, I’d say that Brad is definitely a fun character, he has a lot of charisma and can definitely hold his own scenes. He’s just not a likable guy though and ultimately you aren’t really rooting for his romance to succeed.
As for Jan’s character, she is good but definitely talks a tougher game than her overall character can keep up with. The main problem for her is that she does seem a bit desperate to get a boyfriend and basically proves Brad right the whole time. The whole plot wouldn’t have worked otherwise after all. Whether it is to spite Brad or he was right all along and she just wants a happier life it does make her do some questionable stuff. One such scene is when she basically tells Brad (in his alter ego of course) that he is simply too nice which is not very flattering. While you do understand the concept, that’s just not something you do. You definitely don’t want someone who isn’t so respectful and while there was a montage so it had been a while, it’s hard to say how long they were hanging out. Dating doesn’t immediately have to jump to the next base so with Jan trying to rush things she came across as even more desperate. Plus she had just had that experience with her client’s son so I figure the last thing she would want is another guy being pushy like that. It’s mostly just he fact that Brad was manipulating her the whole time but she definitely did make it easy for him. She does get her revenge in the end though.
Surprisingly, Jonathan is definitely quite solid. He has definitely had a troubled history as Jonathan has had several failed marriages but he thinks that Jan is the right girl for him. He tried to win her over with fancy gifts and when that doesn’t work he takes a more conventional approach. Still, no dice either way as she is categorically uninterested but Jonathan at least takes this in stride. He is unrelenting in now much he asks her out but he never goes overboard. He pleads his case in a very respectful way. The only iffy scene was when he told Jan that they should test out a kiss to see if there was any magic which was pretty iffy. That’s definitely a dicey scene for both parties involved though as that’s not one of those things you test so freely.
While the millionaire is a pretty trusting guy he also knows when to get serious. The scene of him walking up to Brad and basically laying down the terms was intense. You’d think that he was packing a gun with how serious he was and Jonathan also seemed like he was ready to fight. I like his confidence and he definitely didn’t back down. Ultimately he’s a good “nice guy” character who was ultimately doomed from the start.
Low key one solid scene was definitely when Jonathan and Jan went into a diner. At that point she was getting hysterical so he tried to snap her out of it with a slap. While that seems to have been more acceptable back in the day as you would always slap someone to get them out of a trance the diner patrons weren’t having any of that. They quickly got into action and took him down which is the appropriate public response when you see someone being attacked. Those guys definitely did a good job there and it’s always nice when the background characters are solid as well.
One annoying scene is definitely when Jan has to be driven home by the kid of a client. He turns out to be a bad Apple and assaults her several times before forcing her to dance with him. The whole sequence of events is quite iffy. Jan definitely shouldn’t have entertained the idea of giving him a dance and she definitely should have let the mother know or at least the cops to arrest him. It’s the kind of situation that definitely shouldn’t have gone quite as well for the kid as it did. He basically gets away scot free when that should have been a game over moment for him.
While the film is primarily a romance/comedy that doesn’t mean that it necessarily handles both genres all that well. In this case the romance is a little hard to buy. Now, the film does establish early on that Jan is pretty desperate to land a guy and Brad is always messing around with a different lady so the initial meetup isn’t hard to believe. It’s the ending that starts to get a little tricky once she has found out the deception. The whole ending gets pretty exaggerated as she officially accepts his job for interior decorating and then messes it up which costs Brad a fortune. Getting the house completely redone is no small cost. He naturally gets upset and carries her all around town which I suppose impressed her so they get together. That’s not going to bring back Brad’s apartment or give him a refund since it’s an official job though so now I guess he is going to have to live with it.
The final scenes don’t have any rhyme or reason to them. They just happen and the whole time you are really just left confused. How did Brad get it into his head that the two of them were going to get married? He mentions this quite a bit during the ending, but by this point in time they weren’t even on speaking terms. Ultimately he seems to definitely be a little too overconfident and so the fact that it all works out in the end is a bit suspect.
A solid aspect of the film is definitely the writing. While I ultimately preferred You’ve Hot Mail, I do think this one handled the trolling a bit better. Brad did a great job of playing against himself and ultimately making his counterpart look that much better. There are also various gags in the film that are well placed such as a throwaway line/scene that becomes important later on or a running gag that has the payoff as its ending. These are good ways of making sure that the subplots have a point which is always important.
Overall, This is a fun film but it is definitely at its best when it’s focusing more on the comedy and not on the romance. The strong writing and quick pacing make for a lot of good jokes and the film is also good at making a small joke early on and having it get returned by the end. There are a lot of quick payoff moments like that. The film definitely gets dragged down a star by the iffy moment with the student and in general the romance isn’t strong enough to get it any higher, but if you’re looking for a fun retro film then this one should fit the bill.