Photo: ‘Cha Cha Real Smooth’
A Brief Overview
‘Cha Cha Real Smooth’ is written, directed, and produced by Cooper Raiff who stars as the main character, Andrew. The film is Raiff’s sophomore project as the story upholds a refreshing narrative for audiences. The young filmmaker is filled with life as the direction of the movie is consistently lighthearted while dealing with certain serious issues. Its indie feel mixes the themes of drama, romance, comedy, and family. The story accurately explores the struggles of young adulthood as life after university puts you on a path of lost direction. ‘Cha Cha Real Smooth’ is a vivacious film filled with so much life.
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‘Cha Cha Real Smooth’ – A Story of Friendship
‘Cha Cha Real Smooth’ opens up with a young Andrew (played by Cooper Raiff) at a bat mitzvah. He watches a woman– who is presumably the party starter (hint: this is foreshadowing) — dance on the dance floor as she excites the entire crowd of the party including Andrew. As he is captivated by her energy, the young boy attempts to ask the older woman if she would like to go on a date with him. Due to the obvious age gap between the two, she rejects Andrew as he heads home heartbroken with his mother (played by Leslie Mann), comforting him. The movie then cuts to an older Andrew who is now 22 years old within the film. He is a recent graduate from Tulane University who is seemingly trying to get by in life so he can earn enough money to follow his girlfriend who moved to Barcelona.
With his struggle to find a job, he is stuck working at the food court at the mall which is terribly named “Meat Sticks”. It was up until he joined his younger brother to attend a bar mitzvah of one of his classmates. During this time, he finds himself acting as a party starter which soon blossoms into a whole new career for Andrew. This becomes an actual job as he urges awkward teenagers and drunk parents to dance during these events. Raiff is able to effectively capture the nature of nervous young teens with these celebrations.
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At one of the parties, Andrew meets Domino (played by Dakota Johnson), a young mother. Domino accompanies her daughter, Lola (played by Vanessa Burghardt), who is on the spectrum, to these events. Andrew makes a fond connection with both Domino and Lola as he urges them to have a good time. Andrew’s goofy attitude is enthralling which captivates the mother and daughter’s attention. Lola is older than most of the kids in her grade which subjects her to bullying from others in her grade. Later on in the film, Andrew creates a special bond with her as he offers to look after Lola when Domino is ever in need of some help. Their bond is something so special as he treats her as a friend rather than a kid he is just babysitting. Alongside his relationship with Lola, he becomes attracted towards Domino which is evident from the very beginning since the two met. Despite his feelings for her, Domino reveals to him that she has a fiancé, Joseph (played by Raúl Castillo), who contrasts Andrew’s exuberant energy. Their relationship develops throughout the film as the trio of Andrew, Domino, and Lola are endearing to watch.
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Cooper Raiff is the Life of the Party
The film is filled with unexpected friendships and relationships as they shape the direction of an uncertain Andrew. Raiff’s portrayal of the high-spirited character brings a breath of fresh air for the rest of the community in this small suburban New Jersey town. Although some parents disapprove of Andrew’s actions (an instance where he blasted ‘WAP’ by Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion in a room filled with 13-year-olds), his character is an overall sweetheart. Although Andrew is not necessarily a complicated character and is oftentimes one-dimensional, his liveliness is consistent throughout the film which makes it fun to watch. Due to Raiff’s effective acting and persona, he carries the entire story with his excitement for what he does as a party starter. He is also surrounded by mundane characters such as Joseph and his stepfather (played by Brad Garrett) who oppose Andrew’s personality, but he never lets it waver who he is as a person.
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In addition to Raiff’s portrayal of Andrew, Burghardt’s depiction of Lola gives a captivating performance that engages the wisdom of young teenagehood. She portrays a significant presence while having great wittiness and comedic timing. Johnson’s performance gave instances of sorrow which was difficult to understand in the audience’s initial introduction to her character, but as the movie progressed, Johnson exhibited a dramatic performance that will enthrall viewers. ‘Cha Cha Real Smooth’ is a transitional story that focuses on our innate ability to grow as individuals. As the main character finds himself starting parties and putting himself out there, he struggles to find a ground where he can start his own party. Domino becomes a transitional point within the plot that assists Andrew in forging his way towards self-actualization. What is so enthralling about the film is the fact Andrew is a new grad trying to pave his own path. This mimics Raiff’s direction as a young filmmaker as he attempts to find his own voice within his stories.
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Is ‘Cha Cha Real Smooth’ Worth the Watch?
The film was fun to watch. The energy Raiff exudes is contagious and you can’t help but enjoy yourself with him. There are certain parts that can be a bit cringy but that is overshined by the various characters and their stories. The film raises certain serious questions that are briefly answered but are never fully explored. The overall experience of viewing the movie was enjoyable and should be watched by those who enjoy light comedies with elements of romance and drama. ‘Cha Cha Real Smooth’ is worth the watch and is available on Apple TV+.
Cast: Cooper Raiff, Dakota Johnson, Vanessa Burghardt, Leslie Mann, Brad Garrett, Evan Assante, Raúl Castillo
Writer: Cooper Raiff | Producers: Ro Donnelly, Erik Feig, Shayne Fiske, Julia Hammer, Dakota Johnson, Cooper Raiff, Jessica Switch, Jeff Valeri
By Anica Muñoz
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Anica Muñoz is a writer and an aspiring film producer with a passion for media and entertainment. She strongly considers storytelling to be a powerful tool that bridges the divide between communities. Anica enjoys films that showcase a diversity of voices and brings forth empowerment for a wide group of individuals. From her writing, she believes in creating a positive impact with her analysis and reviews of films by exploring the power of human connection within these stories. Her perspective towards consuming entertainment is driven by compassion which aligns itself with the mission of The Hollywood Insider. Anica hopes to share her enthusiasm and love for cinema with others through her work.