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Family Movie Review: Before We Go (PG-13)

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MPAA Rating: PG-13        Length: 99 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 13+. This romantic drama keeps things pretty tame, but there is a current of sexual attraction running through the whole thing: some kissing and implied sexual activity (a couple stumbles out of an elevator together, adjusting their clothes), some drinking, mention of an extramarital affair, a joke about prostitution, and some cursing.

The romantic drama ‘Before We Go’ sets a slow pace and presents a nice amount of charm from Chris Evans, but while the film is pleasant, it’s easily forgettable.

By Roxana Hadadi

As Captain America, Chris Evans is usually the straight man to the rest of the Avengers, even though he loosened up a bit in this summer’s “Avengers 2: Age of Ultron.” The actor goes even more charming in his directorial debut, “Before We Go,” but the inoffensive romantic drama is also ineffectual.

Starring Evans and Alice Eve (of “Star Trek Into Darkness”), the film is almost like a flashback to an earlier period in the actors’ careers, when they were both bouncing along in the romantic comedy genre before settling into the massive “Avengers” and “Star Trek” franchises, respectively. This is the Evans of “What’s Your Number?” and the Eve of “She’s Out of My League,” and they have a nice chemistry together that starts out prickly at first before becoming gently familiar.

Nevertheless, they can’t supersede the film’s mostly generic narrative. “Before We Go” focuses on Nick (Evans), a musician looking to score a dream gig playing with one of his favorite jazz bands, and Brooke (Eve), an art consultant specializing in paintings. They’re both in New York City on business – him for his audition, her for an important buy – but soon they’re stuck in Grand Central Station together after he wavers on attending a wedding reception and she misses her bus back to Boston.

Nick is broke and Brooke’s purse was stolen, but when he realizes that everyone else in the station is ignoring her, he decides to help. She’s adamant that she needs to get back to Boston, and over the course of the night and their following conversations, things become more clear on her end. For Nick’s part, his hesitation to leave the train station is illuminated as well. Both of their romantic histories come into play – and Nick’s initial “I don’t mean to pry” goes right out the window as they talk throughout the night – but the real question, as Nick poses it, is “Want to come with me on a little adventure?”

That journey leads them through a sweatshop, a stolen-purse emporium, an impromptu jazz performance, the wedding reception Nick was avoiding, and various hotel rooms that implicitly raise the “Will they or won’t they?” question about the pair. But for the most part, the film is content with just letting them walk and talk, and while that gives us plenty of Evans being a charming, grinning, generally attractive and nice guy, that means the film meanders. They’re not having deep, meaning-of-life conversations here, so the pairing gets static quickly.

Plus, the focus on discussing primarily their romantic histories means we are always defining Brooke and Nick against each other and weighing whether they should end up together, instead of considering them on their own merits – what their interests are, what their hobbies are, what they want out of life. A little backstory is given about Nick’s college years and time Brooke spent in London, but later in the film, when Nick snipes at Brooke, “I know I know who you are,” it feels laughably immature.

Nevertheless, “Before We Go” is less corny than most films in this genre; it doesn’t get too melodramatic in its depictions of Nick and Brooke’s romantic issues, and it doesn’t push the pair as being each other’s soulmates too heavily on audiences, either. For teens who see the film with their parents – and female teens might be the key demographic here, given Evans’s handsomeness – discussions could be had about whether Nick and Brooke were right in how they treated love and relationships, or if their understandings of romantic partnership were selfish or simplistic. The film doesn’t really offer much more than that.

Interested in a previously released film? Read our reviews of films already showing in your local theater.

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