She Wants Me's exposition is delivered in a dizzying procession of twee affectations: green screens, split screens, animation, on-screen text, and the kind of protracted voice-over narration Margolies leans on like a crutch. The quirk is so witless and incessant that when the movie finally eschews the film-school stylization and gains the confidence to let its characters breathe, it begins to grow on you a little. Gad is an affable performer, and he plays the flustered doormat well. You root for him the way you root for the runt of the litter to keep up with the other pups. When his relationship with Sammy hits the breaking point, the conversation and its aftermath feel real — and quietly devastating. There's also a funny recurring conceit in which John, who has made himself at home in his ex-wife's abode, seems to wear fewer articles of clothing every time we see him.

But these are the only moments of honesty and originality in Margolies' programmatic screenplay. The film is a Goodwill store of comic hand-me-downs, a repository of stereotypes, from Sam's focus-grouped cadre of multicultural chums — note the token black guy and token Asian guy — to an excruciatingly ageist scene at Sam's family home, where his grandmother is a wacky, senile coot and his grandfather is introduced having urinated himself in a recliner.

From a one-night stand to Stuck in traffic.
From a one-night stand to Stuck in traffic.

Details

Cinema Paradiso, 503 SE Sixth St., Fort Lauderdale. Thursday, November 1, at 7 p.m.

Muvico Pompano, 2315 N. Federal Highway, Pompano Beach. Friday, November 2, at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, November 3, at 9:30 p.m.

Sunrise Civic Center, Friday, November 2, at 6:15 p.m. Muvico Pompano, Saturday, November 3, at 7:15 p.m.

Cinema Paradiso, Sunday, November 4, at 1 p.m. Sunrise Civic Center, 10610 W. Oakland Park Blvd., Sunrise. Thursday, November 8, at 6 p.m.

Cinema Paradiso, Saturday, November 10, at 2 p.m.Muvico Pompano, Sunday, November 11, at 7 p.m.

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But the film's ultimate downfall is its solipsism, typical of first-time filmmakers. In a story that reeks with the stench of insulated autobiography, She Wants Me takes the "write what you know" mantra as literally as possible, and it appears that all Margolies knows are other, better movies. When his onscreen surrogate Sam pitches his latest screenplay to Hilary Duff's character, he describes it as a mix of Larry David and, inevitably, Judd Apatow — two writers whose creativity is sorely absent in Margolies.

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