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Cha Cha Real Smooth Movie Review (2022)

Cha Cha Real Smooth Movie Review (2022)

Raiff stars as Andrew, a graduate of Tulane University whose main goal is to make enough money to accompany his girlfriend to Barcelona. He is mostly speechless, scraping together money by living at home in suburban New Jersey, and working at a food restaurant with the incredibly awful name Meat Sticks. But he stumbles into an actual job as a party starter at the local bar and bat mitzvah circuit, and encourages awkward young people and their slightly intoxicated parents to get on the dance floor and do Electric Slide. Raiff and his production design team obviously had a knack for finding the specific details of all these themed events, and the way he captures the nervous energy of this youthful time of flux will make you shudder in recognition.

On one of these nights, he gets in touch with Johnson’s character, a single mother named Domino, and her teenage daughter Lola (Vanessa Burghardt), who is autistic. The fact that he is attracted to them and insists that they are well feels like a natural expression of who this guy is: a big-hearted asshole, sweet and optimistic and – above all else – eager to laugh at himself to ensure everyone else laughs. An opening look at a decade earlier, when he was a 12-year-old guest at a party like this, reveals that Andrew has always been a type of guy at heart. He may not be the most complicated character here, but the consistency of his simplicity allows others to develop who are not quite so sure of themselves. Raiff is sympathetic and often funny, but he is also involved in every single scene, so one can imagine that his idiosyncratic sense of humor may eventually be appealing to some viewers.

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Andrew’s attraction to Domino is obvious, even though she informs him that she has a fiancé, a lawyer who happens to be out of town to work. (A stoic and rigid Raúl Castillo occasionally stops by to assert his territoriality over these two women, and although his outsider nature is the point, it is also a distraction. He simply does not make sense in this world.) But it is his friendship with Lola it is the real surprise – not that it exists, but rather how it flourishes. It would be so easy and lazy to make this relationship unfold in a feel-good, mawkish way. Lola is a few years older than the other children in her class, and she is often bullied. But instead of acting as her savior, Andrew shows genuine interest in her as a friend; Domino asks if he wants to babysit Lola for a few nights, which he likes to do, but he treats her like an equal and takes an interest in her hobbies. Burghardt shows great balance and comic timing in his first film role, and is a joy to watch.

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