Written and directed by Steve Basoline, a down-on-his-luck struggling writer, meets an enigmatic woman who enters his life at the right time. Starring: Finn Wittrock, Zoe Chao, Damon Wayans Jr., Wendi McLendon-Covey and Casey Wilson.
Creating a successful modern rom-com is not easy, trying to encapsulate that cheesiness and sentimentality in an increasingly cynical world is inherently tricky. Long Weekend works because it takes on the best of both worlds, its lead character has problems with his mental health and talks about his breakdown and anxiety, and yet it still has a typically corny romance, with a quirky edge thrown in. The story does move a little more slowly than expected, its pace takes a leisurely route. However, it makes up for that with a few surprising elements, not only the direction it takes down some unusual roads but also in its characters. Particularly Zoe Chao’s Vienna, who is a refreshingly mysterious woman, and not in a desperately trying to be attractive way. The tone is sweet and touching, as well as not being overly self-assured so it can hold onto an honest, genuine feel. It also can be unexpectedly sad which again helps it to remain grounded, even if in the end it does give in to convention to feed the typical audience needs.
Basoline’s style of direction holds that extremely sentimental, hopeful and romantic atmosphere that it’s going for. It has less surprises than the writing, it feels very familiar of modern romances, especially in that every modern romcom seems obligated to include a photobooth. The hue it holds does feed more into the cheesy side of things, almost undermining the authenticity but thankfully not quite. It isn’t perfect or entirely unique but it is exactly what you need for this type of film.
Finn Wittrock and Zoe Chao provide everything you could possibly want from a couple in a romantic comedy. They have a wonderful chemistry, they instantly click, there’s a nice amount of banter, they’re down to earth and the emotions that they play off of each other are moving. Damon Wayans Jr. is great as Bart’s (Wittrock) best friend, he’s a modern dad as well as a genuine friend, they show that the connection between them is caring and heartfelt not just bro-ish relationship advice. Casey Wilson is another friendly face as his wife, she pairs extremely well with Wayans Jr., they’re the sort of couple you’d expect to see a sitcom about. Wendi McLendon-Covey is always a fun addition to a cast and even though she only gets a brief appearance here, she still adds her usual strong personality and some laughs.
Long Weekend is a superb modern romcom, it’s sweet, fun, touching, a little sad and fairly quirky. The story goes in an unexpected direction, even if it’s not getting anywhere fast, and it is a little disappointing that they weren’t willing to take more of a risk with the ending. Wittrock and Chao are a hugely entertaining couple and work perfectly together, especially with a solid supporting cast. Where so many others have stumbled down a predictable, cliched or even irritating road trying to create a modern companion to the guilty pleasure romcoms that we secretly (or unabashedly) love, Long Weekend brings something new and entertaining to the table.