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'On The Line'

'N Sync star is passable in romantic comedy

Friday, October 26, 2001

By Barbara Vancheri, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

The new romantic comedy "On the Line" is "Serendipity Lite." Or, to bend the title of a Mel Gibson movie, "What (Some) Young Women Want."

 
 
'On The Line'

RATING: PG for language and some crude humor

STARRING: Lance Bass, Joey Fatone

DIRECTOR: Eric Bross

WEB SITE: www.getontheline.com

CRITIC'S CALL:

   
 

And that would be Lance Bass and Joey Fatone, members of 'N Sync, starring in a movie that bears more than a passing resemblance to "Serendipity." But I've seen John Cusack, and Bass is no Cusack. As an actor, he's somewhat bland and his expressions consist of cute, cuter and chagrined.

But in a movie largely aimed at adolescents and teens, that doesn't matter. This is for fans of the boy band, and it won't torture their parents if they accompany them. And it's clean enough to earn a PG rating.

Bass plays Kevin, a 24-year-old employee of a Chicago ad agency who suffers from a lack of confidence, especially when it comes to women. One day while riding the elevated train, he meets a pretty grad student (Emmanuelle Chriqui) who shares his passion for singer Al Green and the Cubs and the ability to recite the names of the U.S. presidents. In order.

But Kevin, being Kevin, doesn't get her phone number. Or even her name.

Later, after frustration at work where he and an ambitious colleague are designing a Reebok campaign aimed at tweens (if you have to ask, you're reading the wrong review), he decides to quit sitting on the sidelines of life and take a chance. He makes a poster describing their encounter and asking, "Are You Her?" and plasters Chicago with it.

The sign catches the attention of a Chicago daily newspaper which, as fate would have it, assigns the story to former schoolmate who harbors a grudge against Kevin over a long-ago prom date. As the writer resolves it's payback time, Kevin's friends decide to capitalize on the wealth of women responding to the notice. Among them is Rod (Fatone), who was in a high-school band called Granite with Kevin and has never given up his rocker aspirations. He's a John Belushi type, wild man with unruly hair and personal habits.

"On the Line" manages to squeeze in plenty of music (including a couple of 'N Sync tracks previously unreleased in this country) and populate Kevin's Chicago universe with some above-average supporting players, including Dave Foley as his boss and Jerry Stiller as an office clerk who can sweet-talk a copier. As Abbey, the young woman from the train, Chriqui injects a note of liveliness to the proceedings.

Directed by Eric Bross and written by first-timers Eric Aronson and Paul Stanton, "On the Line" isn't exactly groundbreaking. "Serendipity" explored the notion of destiny with Cusack and Kate Beckinsale earlier this month. In "What Women Want," Gibson was an ad exec joining forces with Helen Hunt for a Nike campaign aimed at women.

I'm enough of a realist to know the audience for "Training Day" or "From Hell" isn't the one for this. It's hard to argue with the story's endorsement of passion -- for love and life -- although Bass may want to keep that very lucrative day job. Some of the best stuff comes at the end, in a joint sing-along and a mock makeup session. Now, that's fun.

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