Most modern romantic comedies are generally more miss than hit, but Two Night Stand manages to defy the odds, largely due to the charming chemistry between twenty-something leads, Miles Teller and Analeigh Tipton, and the hilariously blunt dialogue by first-time screenwriter Mark Hammer. While Two Night Stand isn’t perfect—romance rarely is—it will appeal to millennials who can relate, and probably horrify their parents who can’t.
The film begins where a lot of “dates” develop these days: the Internet. Tipton (Crazy, Stupid, Love) plays Megan, an unemployed college grad recently dumped by a longtime boyfriend-fiancé. She’s mortified about regressing—aka “Benjamin Button-ing”—and spends her days in sweats, moping on the sofa. With a push, nay, an order from her friend and roommate, Faiza (Jessica Szohr), she’s on a world wide web search for some sexual healing. Megan nervously signs up for a dating site and is fielding offers within moments. After striking up an online chat with Alec (Teller), and then briefly video-calling to see if he passes a basic “psycho test,” she decides to venture across town to his Brooklyn apartment for a one-night stand.
Cut to the next morning, and Megan tries to sneak out of Alec’s apartment, only to be foiled by Mother Nature: They’re trapped together by a blizzard that’s shut down all of New York City. These two strange bedfellows are then forced to talk to and learn about each other—picking up a few bedroom improvement tips in the process.
The story is essentially a two-hander, with Tipton and Teller alone together in his apartment for much of the movie. Teller has a relaxed, onscreen persona that endeared audiences in last year’s The Spectacular Now, and Tipton keeps up brilliantly in her first lead role, effortlessly alternating between an ingenue and sex kitten. Whether bickering or bantering, the actors easily play off each other, with first-time feature director Max Nichols (son of director Mike Nichols) giving them room to play with pauses for additional laughs.
When Megan is assessing potential suitors on the dating site, there’s a great moment in which she awaits a response to her simple opening line: “Hey there.” When “Philosopherprince” chats back,“Sup?” she doesn’t miss a beat, saying “Nope” while closing the chat window simultaneously. Not to be outdone, the camera lingers on Alec watching the clock turn from 1:32 to 1:33 pm. He knows it’s going to be a long, awkward day, and Teller’s delivery of this unremarkable line is perfectly smug: “My, how the time flies….”
After a ridiculous adventure to find a working bathroom for Megan, the two settle into a state of detente. During this truce, the one-time lovers begin to critique each other’s performances from the night before, offering honest feedback and suggestions to improve their bedroom prowess. These scenes are both funny and sexy with Hammer’s script hitting its high points.
Two Night Stand should have quit while it was ahead because the film loses steam toward the end. After a plot twist that puts the burgeoning lovers on the outs once again (the second time in 48 hours), Alec channels his best Lloyd Dobler to pull off a big romantic gesture to find her contact information (since she deleted her dating profile). His desperate head-over-heels pining over what was essentially a booty call is a little hard to buy.
The ending comes ripped from the rom-com playbook with a walk in a snowstorm on a desolate New York City street. Here’s where Nichols and team falter with the production design: The street scene seems fake, and the snow is a little distracting. There’s not a touch of slush or gray on the ground, which is pretty much impossible, much like a perfect romantic comedy.
Director: Max Nichols
Writers: Mark Hammer
Starring: Miles Teller, Analeigh Tipton, Jessica Szohr, Scott Mescudi, Leven Rambin
Release Date: Sept.26, 2014
Christine N. Ziemba is a Los Angeles-based freelance pop culture writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow her on Twitter.