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‘All Relative’: A romcom without much com

Tom Long
The Detroit News

‘All Relative’ reads like a French sex comedy, except it isn't French, doesn't have much sex and isn't all that funny.

Still, the basic premise is the kind of intimate absurdity that has fueled many a French farce.

Meet Harry (Jonathan Sadowski), a single guy in New York City who meets a sweet young blonde named Grace (Sara Paxton) one night while bowling. He walks Grace home but finds out she's dating another fellow. All he gets is a hug and a phone number.

Feeling dejected, he goes to a bar, where he meets another blond beauty, Maren (Connie Nielsen) — older, more assured, apparently divorced and certainly looking for love. They sleep together in Maren's hotel room, each agreeing it's just a fling.

But then Grace calls Harry and their romance begins. Cut to a montage of walks in the park, outdoor cafes, etc. Then it's time for Grace to take Harry home to meet her parents in their toney suburban neighborhood.

And Maren turns out to be Grace's not-divorced mother.

This is where the French would have fun, but writer-director J.C. Khoury opts instead for awkward anxiety. It turns out Maren and her husband Phil (David Aaron Baker) have been having a rocky few years. Harry wants to reveal the truth to Grace in the name of honesty, but Maren vetoes that idea. Meanwhile, Phil takes a shining to Harry, who ends up doling out relationship advice.

Khoury uses a lot of romantic comedy staples — Harry has a best friend (Al Thompson) who consistently offers terrible advice, Maren tricks Grace into thinking Harry has dumped her — but the comedy side of the equation is undercut by somber relationship talks and ethical angst. Maybe some French director could have more success with this.

‘All Relative’


Not rated

Running time: 85 minutes

“All Relative” (Not rated) A guy (Jonathan Sadowski) falls for a girl (Sara Paxton) but later realizes he previously slept with her mother (Connie Nielsen) in this apparent romcom undercut by somber relationship talks and ethical angst. (85 minutes) GRADE: C