There's almost no point in reviewing a movie like "On the Line" because its target audience -- N'Sync fans dizzy to see oh-so-dreamy Lance Bass play a lovelorn shy guy -- isn't likely to care how clumsy, lifeless and cliché-driven it is. They're probably not interested in Lance's acting ability, and they certainly don't care what somebody who isn't a 14-year-old girl has to say about said acting ability.
Apparently, director Eric Bross didn't care about lifelessness, clichés or Bass's Hallmark card-thin talents either, because this movie is on autopilot. An uninspired, lowest common denominator romance about a sheepish ad agency grunt (Bass) searching Chicago for a beautiful girl he clicked with during a commute on the El train, the film is one long "missed connections" personal ad come to life.
Bass plasters the city with flyers reading "Are you her?" and fields so many phone calls from lonely women that his posse of pals from central casting (the slob, the snob and the pervert) start scamming the rejects for dates. Implausibly, a newspaper runs a series of stories about this quest, which is more pathetic than it is romantic. Inexplicably, the female population of the windy city becomes enamoured with Bass through this story, and the girls in his office all start cooing at him when he walks in every morning. (All except that one tough-as-nails career gal who steals his idea for a Reebok campaign in a story-padding subplot.)
Meanwhile the girl from the train (Emmanuelle Chriqui, "Snow Day") is too busy learning she's with Mr. Wrong (conceited yuppie scum, answers his cell phone on dates) to take notice of this romantic phenomenon that has gripped the city.
It's a pity Chriqui is regulated to such an negligible role because she has talent and a charismatically cute allure that outshine the mannequin-like Bass whenever she is on screen. She makes an effort to create a real character out of this generic object-of-desire role.
When Chriqui does finally catch on, sitcom misunderstandings keep the couple apart until Bass takes out billboard ads all over the city (how can he afford this?) asking that she meet him at a particular time on a particular train platform for a swoony finale, broadcast live on TV all around Chicago so Bass's newspaper following can cheer "awwww!"
(Yes, I'm giving away the very premeditated ending. Nobody who wants to see this picture will have read this far anyway.)
Minimal effort was put into "On the Line," and it shows in the weed-whacker editing that cuts off any chance for character development, in the thin facade of personality traits (Chriqui is an archeology post-grad, but only so her beau can appear dismissive by calling this her "fossil hobby"), and in the cartoonish supporting roles played with transparent embarrassment by the likes of Dave Foley ("Newsradio") and Jerry Stiller. (A lip-syncing cameo by Al Green is downright humiliating.)
If it's will-they-find-each-other romantic comedy you're interested in -- and not mooning over moon-faced falsetto boy band crooners -- you're a thousand times better off with "Serendipity," which is almost certain to be playing at the same multiplexes during what will surely be this movie's very short run.
Run time: 85 mins
In Theaters: Friday 26th October 2001
Box Office USA: $4.2M
Distributed by: Miramax Films
Production compaines: Miramax Films, A Happy Place
Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 19%
Fresh: 13 Rotten: 56
IMDB: 4.1 / 10
Director: Eric Bross
Starring: Lance Bass as Kevin Gibbons, Joey Fatone as Rod, Emmanuelle Chriqui as Abbey, James Bulliard as Randy Francis, Al Green as Himself, Tamala Jones as Jackie, Richie Sambora as Mick Silver, Amanda Foreman as Julie, Dan Montgomery Jr. as Brady, Dave Foley as Higgins, Jerry Stiller as Nathan, David Fraser as Barret, Jenny Parsons as Margie The Receptionist, Kristin Booth as Sam, GQ as Eric
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