Alan (Brian Gleeson) is on the lookout for love, but rules people out when he discovers they are lying; even little white lies are too much for him to bear. When his former summer romance Alice (Jessica Paré) has a stopover in Dublin, and finds herself on standby for a flight home, the two rekindle their friendship, and maybe a little bit more.
Ireland is really stepping up its game when it comes to romantic comedies lately; not only did we have The Food Guide to Love earlier this year, but Love, Rosie was shot here – not some random English town as the film would have you believe – and now we have Standby. It seems films are trying to make Dubliners think of their home as a romantic city, this may be something that we can buy into, but the question is whether we can buy into these romances…
Poor old Brian Gleeson has a lot to live up to; not only is he the spitting image of his dad, but his brother Domhnall has been making such good choices lately that it must be hard for Gleeson to live up to such a family legacy. He does fine in the lead role here, in fact, of the front couple, he is the one who is warm and engaging. Jessica Paré struggles through the film but most of the struggle is not her fault, since her character is written to be changeable and flighty. Francesca Cherruault chews through some sort of French accent for the film, and the rest of the cast – Stanley Townsend, John Lynn and Tina Kelleher – hide behind their Dublin accents while trying to fool the audience that they actually serve a purpose in the story.
The script, written by Pierce Ryan, feels like a generic rom-com script before the edits and rewrites. What If proved that it is possible to turn the rom-com on its head and reinvent the genre, but Ryan’s script sends the format hurtling backwards with dodgy dialogue, repetitive speeches, clichés and characters that can be defined in one word.
Good romantic comedies should feel light and effortless, but between Ryan’s script, and direction from Rob and Ronan Burke, Standby feels forced and clunky at every turn. Many plot points are introduced then abandoned, and while Gleeson tries his best to make the film sizzle, it soon turns into a wander around Dublin for no real reason. Residents of the city will be pleased to see the DubBikes make an appearance – although why the characters would cycle through the cobbled, drunk strewn streets of Temple Bar is anyone’s guess – and to see that Alan and Alice are just like us; they end up in Zaytoon after a night out.
Standby could well have worked on paper, but clunky dialogue and weak director turn this rom-com of chance into a rather cringey affair. Still, it’s more interesting than the last time I was on standby for a flight; I slept on the floor in Heathrow and woke up to find Westlife standing beside me.