Thursday, March 14, 2024

Phil on Film: 'French Girl'

As ageless as Paul Rudd, Zach Braff is still plugging away at the rom-com scene as he reaches his late 40s. "French Girl" find him as a goofy high school teacher names Gordon who's struggling to rustle up the nerve to pop the question to his girlfriend, Sophie (Evelyne Brochu).

The rom-com is due out in theaters Friday and will be available digitally March 19.

The complication is that Sophie has a shot at following her culinary dreams by auditioning for a job under TV chef, Ruby (Vanessa Hudgens), who also happens to be her secret ex who seemingly has designs on rekindling their romance. Sophie's family is as cool to Gordon's presence as they are starstruck and enamored of Ruby, who promises to save the family farm. Gordon tags along to Quebec, struggling to make inroads with the French-speaking family and hold off his insecurities while supporting Sophie's career trajectory.

Braff's flighty, whimsical performance is the main event, with Brochu and Hudgens reduced to comparatively dull showings. The writer/director team of James A. Woods and Nicolas Wright lean into Braff's strengths, crafting a winning, "Garden State"-style dynamic that shows you can still come of age even as the age you approach is 50.

There are chuckles and squirms aplenty, and even though just about every beat of the script-by-numbers is predictable, the film is never at a loss for charm. Braff proves there is still more to his game than musical Super Bowl commercials with Donald Faison.

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