Title: 6 Month Rule

Director: Blayne Weaver

Starring: Blayne Weaver, Natalie Morales, Martin Starr, Patrick J. Adams, Jaime Pressly, John Michael Higgins, Dave Foley, Vanessa Branch

As it gets out of the starting gate, “6 Month Rule,” from writer-director-star Blayne Weaver, seems like it’s going to be an Eric Schaeffer-type cinematic exercise, infused with a pinch of “Swingers.” After all, multi-hyphenate Weaver contrives situations for him to make out with multiple women, postulates a strict theory about dating and relationships, and puts himself at the center of a universe in which others’ feelings, need and wants are all secondary piffle, collateral damage to be shrugged off. His movie gamely rallies from the awkwardness and all too evident seams of its conceit, but still, despite some atypicality and a few memorable supporting turns, lacks the sort of roundhouse kick and spice that would truly make this “Rule” a golden one.

Weaver stars as Tyler Watts, a commercial photographer who the audience knows is brilliant since, 1) he had a book of art photos published, and 2) every character keeps talking about how brilliant he is. After a couple meet-cutes with a gal, Sophie (Natalie Morales), who breaks him down, Tyler turns his attention toward trying, in tough-love fashion, to cheer up his best friend Alan (Martin Starr), who is fresh off a break-up with Claire (Jaime Pressly), his fiancee of three years. It’s only when Tyler pulls a big photo assignment for an up-and-coming rocker, Julian (Patrick J. Adams), that Tyler discovers Sophie is the one who actually recommended him for the job, and is Julian’s kinda-sorta-but-not-really girlfriend. Awkwardness ensues as Tyler faces down his disinclination for conventional relationships and Sophie tries to sort out her feelings for the two men in her life.

“6 Month Rule,” so named for Tyler’s self-imposed romantic term-limit, is constructed almost entirely of familiar parts: pop-infused psycho-analysis that immediately cuts to the bone; the sudden-rush-at-one-another make-out scene (which last seemed fresh in “Moonlighting”); montage arguments about literature (Camus, “Wuthering Heights,” Hemingway!); the premature break-up where any reasonable discussion is undercut by one party speeding away in a taxi cab; the list-type speech of pitched woo to try to win the girl back. Better films — movies with a bit more forceful personality, sparkling banter and/or convincingly sketched leads — can more capably transcend the creakiness of these conventions. “6 Month Rule” has some nice moments — a good deal of them, actually — but doesn’t quite fully do that, so an embrace rests more on one’s acceptance of these elements than anything else.

It doesn’t help, mainly, that the movie is funneled so singularly through Tyler’s point-of-view. The material between Tyler and Alan — with the former often lecturing the latter, in somewhat condescending mentor-like fashion — is where the film’s humor mainly lies, and those scenes mostly work, but Sophie’s ennui is unfortunately thinly sketched. A platonic sounding-board-type relationship for her would have given the movie a comfortable parallel construction, and also more firmly established her independent thinking and personality, which would make the third act payoffs in “6 Month Rule” resonate a bit more deeply.

As is, there are a couple things that recommend the film. Notably, Starr delivers a winning and multi-dimensional portrait of sometimes amusing romantic despair, yes, but Alan also gets to recognize some of his friend’s subtle manipulations, and call Tyler out on them. Vanessa Branch, too, transcends the fantasy construct of her role as Wendy, a serial fling/vaginal repository who, it turns out, holds deeper feelings for Tyler than she’s been letting on. If the plotting and payoffs of this love triangle are a bit problematic and less satisfying than they one wished, there are also pleasant inversions to be found in the film’s finale, reminding more pensive viewers that every down is a prelude to an up, and vice versa.

For more information on the movie and its VOD offerings via FilmBuff, visit www.6MonthRuleMovie.com.

Technical: C-

Acting: C+

Story: B-

Overall: C+

Written by: Brent Simon

6 Month Rule

By Brent Simon

A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Brent Simon is a three-term president of LAFCA, a contributor to Screen International, Newsweek Japan, Magill's Cinema Annual, and many other outlets. He cannot abide a world without U2 and tacos.

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