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Will (Glenn Howerton) is a 30-something website manager who uses local café, Coffee Town, as his office. When the owners of the shop discuss plans to convert Coffee Town into a bar, Will enlists the help of his two best friends Chad and Gino (Steve Little and Ben Schwartz) to save his freeloading existence. In order to thwart the plans of Coffee Town's owners, the trio stages a robbery to create the illusion of an unsafe neighborhood not suitable for the proposed venue. Also standing in their way is Sam (Josh Groban), a disgruntled barista with delusions of grandeur-he wants to be a rock star-and Will's heartache over unrequited love for Becca (Adrianne Palicki). Written by
Not enough comedies like Coffee Town are made today. The comedies in theaters fall into one of three categories: the sequel that shouldn't have been, the raunchy film with heart (one I never get tired of seeing), or the pointless star vehicle. Brad Copeland's Coffee Town is a simple, satisfying picture, not intent on being offensive or taxing, but more fixated on being a fun ninety minutes one can enjoy without the burden of being too explicit, too sentimental, and too self-satisfying. It's also nice to see that despite lacking these three things, it doesn't hesitate to welcome in some middle- class commentary that may definitely hold some truth in modern society.
Will (Glenn Howerton) is a website manager in his early thirties, who uses the local coffee shop, Coffee Town, as his office. It has everything he needs from a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere, roomy workspace, and free Wi-Fi. It is everything he could ever want in a workplace at least until him and his two pals - the lackadaisical cop Gino (Ben Schwartz) and rolly-polly Chad (Steve Little) - discover that the owner of Coffee Town plans to turn the shop into a hip, modern bar and eliminate the comfort and marginal quietness that the joint has adapted over the years.
The three decide to stage a robbery to give the illusion that the neighborhood in which the new bar will soon be erected is unsafe and unreliable, thus leaving their own coffee shop intact. In the meantime, Will is trying to find a way to grab the attention of Becca (Adrianne Palicki), a frequent customer to the shop and a local jogger, who is in the process of being smitten by Sam (singer Josh Groban), a cocky, condescending employee at the joint who is currently in a second-rate band.
This is standard-fare, with a familiar plot and setups that don't seem too distant from being foreseeable. However, the film has a great niceness that prevents it from being too mean-spirited and nihilistic - as some comedies have gone on to be recently - and, finally, it doesn't feel like a competition to be too offensive and gut-turning with its humor. The language is present, but manageable and rather light, the raunchiness is almost nonexistent, which is a refreshing change of pace, and, for once in a long time, the tired male conversations of guiltless, free- spirited sex is kept to a minimum. However, I could see writer/director Brad Copeland being successful at incorporating raunchier, more sex-driven elements into a comedy.
But incorporating such elements into Coffee Town would be out of place and thoughtless. This isn't a story that needs to be told through the lens of adolescent maturity. It doesn't need constant penis jokes, cruder sex references, and the use of several four letter words and one particular twelve letter word. It gets by almost solely on the quirks and the likability of the characters.
For example, for the first thirty minutes, Copeland fixates the picture not on bizarre strands of events that show the characters' stupidity and denseness, but rather on the commonalities of them that I can see many audience members seeing themselves in. After those thirty minutes pass, these characters begin to feel like real life friends of ours, and if they don't, we can at least match a face of a person we know to their specific character.
This is the debut film from the guys over at CollegeHumor, the website known for pumping out hilarious webshows and internet videos on demand. Judging from the content of their shorts, this could've easily been an extremely vulgar and graphic picture. It's nice to see the men behind the film took a more careful, conservative approach to the story. Again, they show that not every comedy needs to include obscene, shocking amounts of coarse language to be funny and memorable.
Going back to the idea that Coffee Town offers some considerable truth about modern middle class America is the way it comments on the increasing need for acceptance. Will goes to the coffee shop daily not because he has a desire to freeload off of its Wi-Fi and casual resources, but because he could stay in his apartment, alone, growing older by the minute, wasting away on his laptop. At least when he grows older and wastes away on his laptop at Coffee Town he is in the presence of others and out in the open. This way he can see life pass him by right before his eyes; he won't need to turn on the TV or the evening news to realize it. Just by welcoming in this concept and idea, Coffee Town offers more to think about than several other comedies released this year.
Starring: Glenn Howerton, Ben Schwartz, Steve Little, Josh Groban, Adrianne Palicki, and Josh Perry. Directed by: Brad Copeland.
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