• Jennifer Green

Review: "Cha Cha Real Smooth"

This drama is quirky and touching, and it hinges on magnetic central performances from Raiff, Johnson, and Mann. If you crossed Woody Allen with Edward Burns, you might get something like Cha Cha Real Smooth writer-director-star Raiff. His Andrew is nerdy and prone to misspeak, but he's also kind, sensitive, and ready to discover the world -- or at least greater New Jersey.

His neuroses and blunders can be humorous, like his sweet and sometimes misguided advice to brother David, but they also get him into trouble. When he makes yet another imprudent move, while he's drunk to boot, his excuse -- or realization -- that he's just a "dumb kid" feels significant. He even asks his mom how much more growing up he still has left to do.


Your twenties can be fun, but the uncertainty and the missteps can be difficult, too.

Raiff's performance makes Andrew feel somehow both rock solid and trustworthy, yet always on the verge of possibly breaking down. Johnson matches him, as does Mann as his unstable but loving mom.


When Domino and Andrew eventually break up (as you suspect they will all along), the scene captures the essence of what's so fundamentally different about being an unencumbered 22-year-old versus a 30-something with dependents and responsibilities.

 

Read the full review at Common Sense Media.

Image courtesy of AppleTV+.