And the movie’s not about ANY of them. Writer-director Ann Deborah Fishman (“Marriage Material”) hangs her college copulation comedy on Kendall Ryan Sanders, who was good in “The Best of Enemies,” but is out of his comic depth wrangling this movie version of Sheldon Cooper into somebody funny.
James Singer (Sanders) is obsessed with this online “disruption” guru, and computers in general, and starting college at the only school divorced Mom (Leigh-Allyn Baker) and profligate, womanizing Dad (Steve Daron) could afford.
His new roomie, Lance (Centineo) is high priest of hook-ups, and utterly dismissive of James, until he and his not-in-a-frat bros (Christian Hutcherson, Nathan Gamble) share Professor Barnes’ (Johnson) computer class.
“Why would I waste money on a movie, or flowers? That went out with the 20th century…The market is saturated with single, slutty girls. It’s a buyers’ market.”
All I have to do is click.” Hannah’s “What’s your last name?” and Jane Austen-fixation of “dating” makes her “obsolete.”
Naturally, Hannah is James’ high school crush. But he keeps on developing “Jungle,” getting it up and operational, turning the tables on bully Lance by making him wait on him hand and foot as he does.
Guys, and a few more girls than you’d like, fall right into “Jungle.” Until the “no dating” part of the fine print hits them. No phone calls, no social niceties, no courting. Just lots of tears.
Whatever message about empowering entirely-too-compliant coeds into taking control of dating back from the creeps they’re dealing with may be worthy
James has his big change of heart when his sweet, lonely mother tells him and his bratty/pretty sister (Kalani Hilliker) she’s trying out this hot new app (which James takes no credit for).
Sitcom vet Johnson takes a few shots at interjecting cute lines in her classroom scenes. Lipstick smudged lips on Lance?
A promising direction are the “first love, love of my life” chats with Grandpa (Hamilton), James polling and questioning people of Grandpa’s generation about dating and sex habits when they were younger.
The language of “Swiped” – it is named for the screen swipe you use on dating apps to eliminate candidates, or “choose” someone to see – is shockingly tame, considering the subject matter. the “love story” is about as romantic and convincing as the one involving the original version of Sheldon Cooper on TV.
Phones, as Wesley (Hutcherson) cruelly tells the fair and seemingly innocent Hannah (Shelby Wulfert) are now “a 24 hour portal to all the sex I could ever dream about
What is surprising is how timid, unsexy and seriously unfunny it is. It just needed to be in a sharper, funnier, more romantic or more overtly sexual package than this.
As someone who came of age at a time when looking for a potential partner(s), be it for a lifetime or one night, was less a neat calculated exercise and more a messy spontaneous surprise, I’ve never quite understood the appeal of online dating. Seeking love and/or sex via swipe just always seemed creepily clinical and controlled, cold and robotic – about as sexy as in vitro fertilization to my mind.
And yet watching Pacho Velez’s Searchers, an exploration of online connecting through the eyes (literally, as Velez’s Interrotron-style setup allows his characters to look directly at us as they navigate their favorite dating apps) of New Yorkers during the physically distanced COVID summer, had me unexpectedly riveted. Through a variety of participants – spanning age, sex, sexuality, gender-identity and race – we become privy to the strangest of sociological experiments. Rather than any deep dive into the state of our collective love lives, or a statement on the often elusive promises of big tech, we get a fascinating visual realization of process itself. By allowing the searchers to focus intently on the task at hand (and not the camera in their face) we’re able to watch in real time how physically reaching out, tapping – and attempting to touch another human being through an inanimate object – radically alters natural behaviors, and thus perhaps even our desires.