Cast: Robbie Kaller, Jillian Leigh, Tommy Snider, Constance Reese
We’ve seen quite a number of romantic comedies out there, but more recently we’ve seen an emergence of indie hits in the genre from the likes of 500 Days of Summer or Garden State. Director/producer Ryan Sage (best known for editing “Modern Family” commercials) is looking to bring something new to the genre with A Big Love Story, a movie that is looking at love from the perspective of a funny but insecure guy trying to lose some weight. Does A Big Love Story bring some delightful charm to the subject, or is this just another romantic comedy that brings little new to the table?
A Big Love Story puts us in the shoes of Sam (Robbie Kaller) who is single, overweight, and making his way through life working at a bowling alley. After making a bet with some of his closest friends that include his room mate Miles (Tommy Snider) and his girlfriend La Shawna (Constance Reese), he goes to the gym where he meets his personal trainer Cassie (Jillian Leigh). As Cassie trains Sam, the two slowly begin to develop a casual friendship. When Cassie decides she wants to get back at an ex-boyfriend, she goes out with Sam where the two hit it off and something special begins to blossom.
This premise of this movie may not sound like anything particularly special, but the real star of A Big Love Story is the film’s writing and acting. The script for this movie is very clever and aware of just how people act and respond in relationships. The movie relies heavily on the sarcastic wit of its characters who are never afraid to point out the awkward situations right before it starts laughing at them. The sarcastic edge to the film stems mostly from Sam’s roommate Miles who always sees the glass as half empty. Miles is a great foil to counterbalance to the easy going attitude that Sam carries with him even if his advice actually creates most of the conflict in the movie. Jillian Leigh also strikes up some great chemistry with Robbie Kaller whose relationship feels oddly organic and believable.
If there’s anything to be said about the way A Big Love Story views relationships, it’s that people need to be themselves, enjoy life, and let these things happen. Sometimes the overweight guy will score the girl of his dreams by surprise or maybe the charming intellectual is more than meets the eye. People and relationships are complicated and unpredictable, and I believe that A Big Love Story was all about subverting what people in a relationship look like.I found that this angle is much closer to relationships I see everyday which should be appealing for people who are more interested in romantic comedies that aren’t afraid of the difficult reality that relationships can present. This is not a movie that over-romanticizes love, but rather shows us the beauty of a young relationship in its purest form.
Ryan Sage brings an interesting direction to this story by trying some interesting things including inserting an animated sequence in part way through the movie and using some camera work that is generally uncharacteristic for the genre. The animated sequence comes out of nowhere, but after it was over I came to the conclusion that there weren’t too many other ways to keep the exposition in line with the tone the movie had already established. Sage clearly understands people and how awkward relationships can be because of his tone which looks at reality on the lighter side of life. Thanks to his direction mixed with the spot on acting, the movie feels real, natural, and a lot like love. Most of these risks pay off and add to the charm of this poignant story of an unlikely relationship.
In the end I think A Big Love Story is a great little romantic comedy that keeps things real but charming. It definitely doesn’t shake up the tired genre enough to be called “revolutionary” or “groundbreaking,” but it still manages to break down the stereotypical couples that we have gotten so used to seeing even on the indie scene. This is a fun movie that I can’t help but recommend to anyone married, single, or somewhere in between that want to see an honest movie about young love and the challenges of getting with the “right” person. If you’re looking for a sure-fire hit for your next date night, you won’t want to miss A Big Love Story.