Dopamine Movie Review

This film takes the chemistry behind romantic attraction as the leading ingredient in the struggle between the sexes. It puts a guy who is too intellectual for his own good together with a gal who is more inclined toward emotional fulfillment.

The guy is Rand (John Livingston), a computer graphics designer working with two partners on a 3-D animated bird figure (Koy Koy) that learns from and responds to voiced expressions, taking the concept of interactivity to a higher level. They're doing the breakthrough work for a Japanese client who asks them to install the software in a kindergarten class for a real world test of the product. Rand balks, worried that his creation may not be ready for public exposure, but his partners in the San Francisco startup venture, Winston (Bruno Campos) and Johnson (Reuben Grundy), recognize the wisdom behind the request and override Rand's objections.

Rand and Winston take time out for a beer at the local bar and, as they settle down, notice Sarah (Sabrina Lloyd) sitting alone. Her eyes meet Rand's and lock in an intrigue-at-first-sight moment, but Rand goes completely shy, befitting his nerdish nature. Taking the lead, Sarah comes over, but it's lothario Winston who makes the conversation and winds up taking her home and to bed. In the morning, she bolts out of Winston's apartment like it's been invaded by killer bees, leaving behind one bruised and baffled ego.

But, she's not out of our guys' lives. It turns out she's one of the teachers of the class chosen for the software test (hey, life is full of coincidence). When this leads to the connection that we're all waiting for -- in fact, at the moment it's about to be consummated -- Rand goes collegiate in defining his feelings for her along chemical and biological lines. It's not what the lady wants to hear, pal. Give it a rest about the attractant qualities of natural amphetamines.

She makes it clear that she's turned off by a guy who is a living medical journal, leaving us with the question: Will Rand get over his chemical theory dependency before he turns attraction to allergy and loses the object of it all?

The screenplay for Dopamine is a team effort by writers Mark Decena and Timothy Breitbach who come up with an electronic age cute meet for a romance movie. Their story premise, while developing an original take on the subject, could be a bit off-putting for the more traditional romantic who doesn't come to the theatre for mental exercises. For them, there's Le Divorce and Alex and Emma.

Thanks in large part to the bright beauty of the female involved, namely Sabrina Lloyd (emerging -- we hope -- from a mostly TV background), the intellectual analysis is held in check by the romance factor. She's seriously magnetic, pheromonally and otherwise (how else to explain my heartbeat?). The male cast is uniformly engaging and, despite the technical astuteness, they are real guys with whom you'd have a beer anytime. In their varied behaviors they humanize the gender issues as well as the science that explains some of it.

Bio-chemicals may rule but drama prevails, and it's a good thing the guys who formulated this came up with an effective mix of opposing elements.

She puts the dope in dopamine.


Comments

Dopamine Rating

" Good "

Rating: R, 2003

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