A romantic comedy that often feels like something that could have/should have been released in the 1980’s, Two Night Stand offers up a satisfying throwback experience. In many ways, it resembles the sort of work that once upon a time you would have seen John Cusack, Robert Downey Jr., or Rob Lowe in. Here we have Miles Teller in the role those actors would have played and honestly, he acquits himself quite well. Along with co-star Analeigh Tipton, Teller again crafts a charming character with just a little bit of an edge to him. Tipton is arguably our lead here, so she gets plenty of time to develop herself as well. Director Max Nichols and scribe Mark Hammer start with a simple premise and keep it simple throughout, almost completely fighting the urge to go down the types of romantic comedy roads we’ve been down before. There’s a moderate sized stumbling block at the beginning of the third act, but it doesn’t cripple the film. Though hardly a great movie by any stretch of the imagination, this rom com is way better than I had any right to expect, especially going off of the mediocre trailer. Two Night Stand is able to distinguish itself within the sometimes downtrodden rom com genre just enough to be worthy of a recommendation.
Megan (Tipton) is “between things”. You name it, she’s between it. A job, a career path, a significant other…she mostly just sits on the couch she shares with her roommate Faiza (Jessica Szohr) and mopes. She was engaged and in medical school just a short time ago, but that all came crashing down and now she’s harassing Faiza’s buzz in a big way. She’d ideally like to get Megan moved out so her boyfriend Cedric (Scott Mescudi) could move in, but she’d settle for getting Megan laid. As such, she suggests her having a one night stand, but when an in person is aborted, Megan is forced to try the online route. She finds Alec (Teller) on a website and before long goes over and sleeps with him. They don’t vibe well with each other the next morning and Megan is eager to leave, but mother nature has other plans. A huge snowstorm has trapped her in Alec’s apartment, forcing them to spend more time together. Initially they’re combative as all hell with each other, but slowly some walls come down. Eventually they decide to give each other romantic and sexual pointers, leading to some obvious tension. The script then throws a bit of a twist in, but up until that point, you’re just enjoying the charm of these two characters.
I think it’s safe to say now that Miles Teller makes everything that he’s in better. He’s made a few fairly mediocre flicks watchable, and here he helps to make this rom com a success. A lesser version of this story would have had him being an unrelenting dick until an inexplicable third act change of heart, but both the screenplay and Teller avoid that. He’s no saint, but he crafts a mostly normal guy in an unusual situation, trying to make the best of it. It’s not Teller’s best performance to date, but it shows his charm in a big way. Analeigh Tipton actually gets to play the slightly less likable character, which is an interesting choice considering how she has the most screen time. She’s witty, but a bit uptight, though not in an unrealistic way. Teller and Tipton are at their best when sparring with each other, so it’s a lot of fun to watch them go back and forth during the middle of the film. They both elevate the material, which hints at skepticism in regards to modern romance, but leaves it to the pair to carry that element through to the finish line. Scott Mescudi and Jessica Szohr are out of the picture except for the beginning and end, so their impact is limited, with even less impact given by other supporting players like Leven Rambin and Michael Showalter. The ones to watch here though are Teller and Tipton, obviously.
Max Nichols (yes, the son of filmmaker Mike Nichols) makes his debut here and shows that he’s a director with a future in the genre. He commits to the 80’s look and vibe early on. If not for the modern technology, you easily could have mistook this for a flick from 1985, at least in tone. Nichols and writer Mark Hammer (also making his debut) made me think of About Last Night (the 80’s original obviously, not the recent remake) more than once, which I mean as a compliment. It has the feel of a play, which Nichols ramps up by keeping us in a confined space for well over half of the running time. The weak link here is Hammer’s writing, which pulls out an unnecessary twist two thirds of the way through. The film recovers, but it’s touch and go for a while.
Though certainly nothing too special, Two Night Stand is an enjoyable romantic comedy with some old school vibes enhancing the appeal. If you’re a fan of Miles Teller, you’ll probably want to seek this one out. If nothing else, it’ll tide you over until Whiplash hits later this year. Two Night Stand is a clever enough little rom com, one that never redefines the genre but almost always manages to entertain. It earns a recommendation almost solely through dogged charm, but I’m okay with that.
–Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!