Anything But Love

Billie Golden wishes that her life were like a movie. More specifically, a Technicolor movie filled with vivid colors, beautiful songs, and dance numbers. One problem? Some of those films were not as good as people remember. What's the result? Anything But Love turns the same way. It is intentionally cheesy, a little bizarre, and in the end, not much of anything at all. It's an interesting concept, not taken to its full extent like in the little-seen Man of the Century. Golden (Isabel Rose, Forrest Gump) is a single woman living in New York, trying to live out her dream of singing standards. She dresses up like characters in those old movies, singing at an airport hotel lounge to a nearly empty audience of the elderly.

Her mother wants her to get a sensible job and to marry a sensible man, and as Billie begins to realize how hopeless her dream may be, she meets Greg Ellenbogen (Cameron Bancroft, She's No Angel, MVP 2). Greg is a dull, boring banker whom Billie had a huge crush on in high school when they were both in a school play. Long ago, Greg gave up his dreams to pursue his job, and now he wants to get married. Rose, who co-wrote the story with director Robert Cray are relatively new to the movie business, and it shows. Greg is clearly the wrong guy for Billie, but there are far too many questions about his motivations. The film seems to imply that he wants to get married to advance in his job. He has a girlfriend and dumps her, because she is too much like him. It's never clear if he likes Billie for who she is or if he finds her amusing. And, even with their similar past, he has no clue who or what she is talking about most of the time. Greg is all looks and no brains, and this becomes far too distracting.

The right man for Billie is Elliot Shepard (Andrew McCarthy, Diggity: Home at Last, Nowhere in Sight). His main problem? He's ANDREW MCCARTHY. Sheesh. Still, it's clear he is the perfect guy because they meet in such a way that they initially hate each other. First, he sabotages an audition for her. Soon, she ends up taking piano lessons from him because he is the cheapest. And after spending time with him, she realizes that she loves him. Like Billie, Elliot is an artist. He plays music because he has to; it's cathartic and primal. Music is something that Billie and Elliot understand, and something that Greg doesn't. McCarthy makes an odd choice for a leading man here. He valiantly tries to fake playing a piano (it doesn't work) and appears, well, nebbish.

So Anything But Love slowly begins to develop this triangle, with no doubt in anybody's mind who Billie will eventually choose. Rose sings a number of songs, and her Billie character's mannerisms and dress do add a little eccentricity and originality to the film, but it never lasts. Heck, she even dresses up like Audrey Hepburn for one of her dates. Tempering this weirdness is the fact that Billie realizes that this is fake. She continues dressing up and singing because she can withdraw into this fantasy world where everything is better. Love and life are easy, unlike the real world, where she may soon be out of a job. This sense of security is what draws her to Greg, everything else notwithstanding. Because it relies on such a standard formula, Anything But Love needs something special to make it stand out. Billie's songs and garb are more of a gimmick than anything else, and not enough to last the entire film.

Mongoose Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 42 minutes, Rated PG-13 for some language and innuendo.

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