Not to gloat, and I mean that seriously, but I haven’t been single in a tiny bit over four years. I somehow completely missed the boat on Tinder when I was, but I have to admit that I have always wondered what kind of hilarious shitshow would have come of that had I been single. I think it existed before I met my boyfriend, but I was kind of intimidated by it because at that time it was strictly more of a hook-up app while a lot of people went on OkCupid to attempt to find something more…substantial, which is hilarious, because they’re all for the most part just hook-up tools.
Michael K. Feinstein’s The Browsing Effect visits the dating world of today to comedic effect, similarly to Cameron Crowe’s romantic comedy opus, Singles. It’s funny to imagine the characters from that seminal flick and how they’d fare on Tinder, but that’s another story altogether, Cliff Poncier!
“All members of the friend group have a fatal flaw that we see play out through their dating disasters…”
Anyway, The Browsing Effect follows a group of friends through some pretty mortifying dating faux-pas’. We have Melissa (Megan Guinan) and James (Drew Fonteiro), the seemingly “perfect couple” who of course ends up being anything but. We have the recently broken up couple of Ben (Josh Margolin) and Rachel (Nikki Soohoo), who are both suffering from the breakup but handling it in very different ways. Then, most hilariously we have Lawrence (Larry Powell), who has been stalking the waiter at the restaurant the friend group always goes to on Instagram for a year.
All members of the friend group have a fatal flaw that we see play out through their dating disasters. The person who seems to have the most hilarious dates is Ben. He sees so many girls from Tinder. None of them seem to be good enough until he meets Gabriela (Gabriela Lopez). She is the first girl he connects with after Rachel, and like so many people, he ends up getting scared and messing it up. Melissa and James end up splitting up as well, and all seems hopeless for a brief moment. Like any good romantic comedy, everyone in the group discovers some new things about themselves and each other at the end of the day. Things end more or less happily, and the audience is left satisfied.
“It will make you feel like you’re not alone in the world of virtual meat markets…”
The script is very funny. The bad dates are really bad. Then, of course, there’s Melissa, who makes everyone go to their improv show and she’s there because the guys in the improv group think they’re “woke” for adding a female member. Rachel dates and re-dates someone who annoys the hell out of her, because he’s the person who really cares for her the most. Their interactions are hilarious and familiar to many relationships I’ve seen in reality. The female characters are not obviously written by men, which is rare and something I greatly appreciate about this film.
In the meantime, check out The Browsing Effect. It will make you feel like you’re not alone in the world of virtual meat markets and that your experiences aren’t uniquely horrible, which is what I think Singles managed to be wildly successful with back some 27 years ago when it came out.
The Browsing Effect. (2019) Written and Directed by Michael K. Feinstein. Starring Megan Guinan, Josh Margolin, Nikki SooHoo, Drew Fontiero, Larry Powell, Gabriela Lopez.
7 out of 10 stars