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Are We Officially Dating?

‘Are We Officially Dating?’ tries to be an antidote to relationship movies.  Discarding the sweeping violins, lingering looks and melodrama, it stokes the romantic fires with a comedic sheen.  It has much of the complexities relationships conjure with the various entanglements ripe for humour.  ‘Are We Officially Dating?’ only partially succeeds despite a solid cast.

 

Jason (Zac Efron) is afraid of lasting relationships.  A dedicated ‘commitment-phobe’, his carefree existence occasionally irks his close friends Daniel (Miles Teller) and Mikey (Michael B. Jordan).  Both with significant others, their lives are changed when their long-term partners suddenly dump them.  Now a single trio, they make a pact to remain so.  This is easier said than done with new ladies weakening their resolve ensuring their days of single-dom are potentially short ones.

 

Spinning another variation on the ‘boys behaving badly’ concept ‘Are We Officially Dating?’ never finds its own identity.  It’s very derivative of other films and turns into the type of relationship film it attempts to mock.  There are few moments offering genuine surprises with various romantic clichés swiftly surfacing. Tom Gormican directs with little flair with the comedy and drama awkwardly mixed.

 

‘Are We Officially Dating?’ isn’t a total write-off as it has some appealing qualities.  The performances are better than the generally sub-standard material which frequently slips into crudity for laughs.  Efron and his co-stars display genuine chemistry ensuring you believe in their character’s friendship.  How their search for love changes their bond and their reaction to the new women in their lives provides interest.

 

Whilst largely forgettable, ‘Are We Officially Dating?’ is reasonably amiable viewing.  Had it differentiated itself from similar films it may have worked better with the search for the definitive ‘romantic-comedy’ still as elusive as the love for which its characters search.

 

Rating out of 10:  5

Dallas Buyers Club

Back in the early to mid-1980’s AIDS became a subject for which many became paranoid.  An unknown disease for which there was no known cure caused world-wide ramifications still being felt.  Based on true events, ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ explores a person’s response to the crisis.  Like many stories based around AIDS it’s one of struggle and determination to maintain dignity whilst battling the spectre of death.

 

In 1985 electrician and rodeo rider Rod Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) lives life to the max.  A racist homophobe these qualities continually drive his narrow world-view.  When in hospital for a work injury he is diagnosed as HIV positive. Shocked, he tries to find a cure.  He thinks he finds it in a new drug only on sale in Mexico.  Appalled at the strict rules applied by the American medical profession, he aims to help others in similar circumstances by any illegal means possible.

 

As clichéd as it sounds, ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ is a classic example of someone taking a ‘journey’.  Beginning from a point of uninformed ignorance, Woodroof eventually has his eyes opened in unimagined ways.  His friendship with fellow sufferer Raymond (Jared Leto), a transgendered woman and sympathetic Doctor Eve (Jennifer Garner) forces him to confront his past behaviour.  Whilst his opportunism initially sees him providing aid at a price, it’s his dogged resolve that ultimately defines him.

 

Director Jean-Marc Vallee presents these strands in a straight-forward manner free of sentiment.  Whilst often resembling a potted lecture of medical procedures of the era, the screenplay ensures you care about its characters.  Due to McConaughey’s solid performance you gain a begrudging respect for Woodroof despite his early nastiness.  Leto and Garner give fine support as people reminding Woodroof that compassion and resilience can be found anywhere.

 

Whilst ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ may have the ingredients needed to capture award voter’s attentions, it maintains its sense of humanity.  It was the early work of Woodroof which gave hope to many AIDS victims with his legacy towards a permanent cure one never forgotten.

 

Rating out of 10:  7