The romcom is an oversaturated genre. New versions of the same story are released every week, and studios are constantly trying to modernise classic tropes: the meet-cute, a down-on-their-luck protagonist searching for salvation, the sweet male BFF. Hooking Up, streaming online now, aims to cut through this crowded marketplace, but fails to stand out from the competition.
Director Nico Raineau’s lightweight comedy follows Darla, a recovering sex addict, and Bailey, who goes to cancer support meetings in the same centre where Darla attends therapy sessions. They meet in a hallway by chance one night and strike up an unlikely friendship. With Darla fired from her sex column work and Bailey needing a break from obsessing over his ex, the pair embark on a raunchy road trip. Their agreement: to help each other move on from past trauma, they will stop at every place Darla has had sex over the years and reenact the experience together. Bailey will have a chance to deal with the break-up – and Darla can work out an irresistible pitch to win back her writing column. From airport bathrooms to random back alleys, Darla shares some of her most tender memories with Bailey. Her iPad notes morph into lengthy blog posts which she publishes while on the road, without Bailey’s knowledge. Unfortunately, this road map of Darla’s exploits, originally marked out as a self-medicating trip, ends up with as many plot holes as the highway has potholes.
Elsewhere, Hooking Up half-heartedly examines Darla’s female sexuality – sex acts that some would find objectionable are played for cheap laughs, and Darla’s addiction is mostly framed as a joke. There are a few moments when Snow plays against stereotype – Darla often dominates Bailey – and the leads start to click, but not even the main duo’s impressive comic chops can keep Hooking Up on track.
To compound matters, this whirlwind romance is documented via bland camerawork that fails to pop. The road trip concept offers numerous possibilities to capture beautiful scenery but Hooking Up doesn’t seem to bother. Add to that a series of clichés, predictable comedic beats, and confusing plot lines and you’re left with a disappointingly middle-of-the-road snooze-fest. Are we nearly there yet?
- Director: Nico Raineau
- Starring: Brittany Snow, Sam Richardson, Anna Akana
- Release date: June 8 (Digital)