DVD Review - eCupid

JC Calciano's previous movie Is It Just Me? incorporated the Internet into a more conventional romantic comedy scenario. It was conventional in that it did the typical mistaken identity or hidden identity trope that is common in so many of the Hollywood genre pictures. It's even become common in a growing number of independent films, even ones centering on LGBT characters. The Eating Out series of movies is an example, but Calciano isn't as prurient as the makers of those movies. He's arguably more prudish.

His movies do appeal mainly to gay male audiences, so yes there are plenty of shirtless studs, but there are also no depictions of gay sex. Calciano is instead all about love. The story in fact centers on a couple that has been together for 7 years. Houston Rhines stars as Marshall, an openly gay advertising executive in Los Angeles. His boyfriend for nearly a decade is Gabe, played by Noah Schuffman. Gabe runs a coffee shop and besides being two men who share a bed, they are an average, American couple.

Marshall is approaching his 30th birthday, which means that he and Gabe met in their early twenties and were probably hot and heavy in those initial days. Now, however, Marshall and Gabe's sex life is non-existent. Marshall tries to initiate sex, but Gabe is struggling at his shop and is tired or just not interested. This frustrates Marshall but he doesn't complain. Nights go by with the two not even saying much of anything to one another. Both instead spend more time on their electronic devices, smartphones, laptops and TVs.

When Marshall is frustrated and unable to connect with Gabe, he turns to those devices. It leads him to an app called eCupid. It's perhaps inspired by eHarmony, which is a dating website that helps people find potential lovers by matching certain criteria like physical attributes or hobbies. eCupid goes further. It's not just a website. It's a computer program that's installed on all your electronic devices and controls those devices in order to affect Marshall's life.

What starts to happen is that indications arise eCupid might have artificial intelligence. Calciano doesn't overplay the sci-fi aspect or even the possible fantasy elements. The movie really is just about these two characters and their love for one another, and even when others come along who can give them exactly what they want in the immediate moment, it's still one another that they need. Matthew Scott Lewis plays Keith, the slutty temp at Marshall's firm who becomes his veritable wish-fulfillment. Brad Pennington plays Richard, the stable and adorable dork who becomes Gabe's cushion when he falls.

While I might have appreciated Marshall making a bit more of a fuss that an app was manipulating his life, in many ways it speaks to the integral nature of technology. Being that Morgan Fairchild plays the voice of the eCupid app, I merely would have loved having more scenes with her because she's beautiful and lovely every time she appears on screen. Cupid was the Roman god of love and his mother was Venus, the goddess of love, which precisely who Fairchild is. She's a goddess.

Calciano's script doesn't have a lot of punchlines or gags. His previous movie Is It Just Me did. It was peppered with more overt comedy, certainly more than this one, but somehow eCupid is funnier. It's not laugh-out-loud funnier. The comedy builds itself on some slightly awkward encounters and a couple of characters that defy stereotypes in subtle ways like John Callahan (All My Children and Days of Our Lives) who defies the stereotypical boss role and Mike Manning from MTV's The Real World: DC who basically defies his reality TV role.

There are other characters who don't defy stereotypes like the horny frat boy, played by Galen Drever, and the gay party planner, played by Gary Riotta. Rounding out the cast are Andy Anderson and Joe Komara who play the two Chris' as well as Chris Rubeiz who plays Jimmy, a guy who might also be in need of the eCupid app.

The DVD special features are over a hour and include trailers, outtakes, auditions and actor interviews. One gives us the much wanted Morgan Fairchild as she explains her interest in epidemiology. There's also a music video, "Always You," performed by Chadwick in addition to the movie's music, mostly written by Christopher Farrell.

Four Stars out of Five.
Not Rated But Recommended 14 and Up.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 34 mins.


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