Despite an interesting premise and strong performances, Love and Air Sex is ineffective.
Structuring a romantic comedy around the Air Sex World Championships should be near-can’t-miss material, if only because air sex itself ought to be funny or sad, depending on the filmmakers’ choices. Unfortunately, until the very end of this movie, when Kara (Sara Paxton) is on-stage, it is neither.
As Kara performs her routines, Love and Air Sex is funny, as funny as it should have been throughout.
Ditto that for Stan (Michael Stahl-David) and Haley’s (Addison Timlin) first meeting, occurring street side, with Haley trying to retrieve her cell phone.
But they are the only humorous scenes in this supposed comedy.
Something for which we cannot blame the actors. Michael Stahl-David (Stan), Ashley Bell (Cathy), Justin Arnold (Tim) and Zach Cregger (Jeff) do their best to vitalize their characters.
They simply fail, because the screenplay, credited to three writers, doesn’t develop any of them. Stan and Cathy bleed together. They are both emotionally guarded, socially cautious and heartbroken; if not for being opposite gender and played by different actors, they could be the same character.
Tim is the perfect first date, with no apparent flaw.
And Jeff is the worst character. A cross between American Pie’s (1999) Steve Stifler and Mallrats’ (1995) Brodie Bruce, Jeff is offensively one-dimensional, something that might work better if he were funny. But, of course, he isn’t.
The only humorous characters in Love and Air Sex are women. The first: Kara, one of the four leads. Of course, with her sarcasm-laden performance, Sara Paxton deserves most of the credit. Yes, her character has potential for complexity, but Kara is ultimately no better drafted than the other leads, probably because the writers don’t focus on her enough.
The other humorous character? Addison Timlin’s Haley, whose dry wit is laugh-out-loud clever. But that just means we regret how little screen time Haley receives.
Because none of these characters are well developed, we do not feel for any of them. Which means Love and Air Sex’s attempts at drama fail.
Just like its humor.
Then, in the final act, writer/director Brian Poyser and his two co-writers end with a genre-bucking twist, something for which I want to applaud them, but ultimately can’t. Because the ending, while different from other romantic comedies, is so rushed that we are left puzzling over secondary characters’ decisions. Why do Haley and Tim behave this way? We can only guess, a fact that is troubling on its own merits but becomes more so since Haley’s behavior probably breaks character.
With ineffective humor, worse drama and a poor conclusion, Love and Air Sex fails. Avoid it.