Based on Ayn Carrillo’s memoirs, “Pornology” is co-created by directing brothers Chris and Nick Riedell A Nice Girl Like You a cute comedy about a young woman rediscovering her sexuality. However, we reveal in our review why it is a shame that it is not nearly as slippery as the premise allows.
OT: A nice girl like you (USA 2020)
The plot summary
Violinist Lucy (Lucy Hale) has her sheltered life firmly under control thanks to colorful sticky notes and to-do lists. Nothing can upset her – until she catches her boyfriend Jeff with a sex film. Lucy is horrified and gives him a choice: her or the porn. Jeff calls her uptight and then leaves her. Of course, Lucy can’t let that go and she decides to change something. She creates a sex to-do list, which she works through with the support of her friends from the string quartet. They embark on a pretty crazy excursion into the world of strip clubs, sex shops and porn fairs, where they not only learn a lot about physical pleasure, but also about true love.
“P*rn*logy – The Porn Guide for Good Girls” is the name of the book on which the romantic comedy “A Nice Girl Like You” is based. In both cases – even more so with the film title – the alarm bells ring immediately: author Ayn Carrillo-Gailey made the “women don’t watch porn” note in her bestseller and wants to explain to her young readers what is considered feminine, sexual being is allowed to do and what is better left alone? No, it’s not quite that simple. Carrillo-Gailey plays with the basic idea of a prudish girl who (once again) discovers her own sexuality in a rather male-dominated world of eroticism. But the premise of the “good girl” who “doesn’t do that” is more of a tongue-in-cheek understanding. Her main character Lucy feels really comfortable in her own skin as an uptight flowery sex lover and has no problem at all with the fact that she simply can’t do anything with things like dirty talk, masturbation or porn. The sex to-do list she wrote after an incident with her partner serves less to portray herself to the outside world as different than she really is. Rather, Lucy wants to find out for herself whether she doesn’t think the whole sex thing is cool after all.
Lucy (Lucy Hale) meets Grant (Leonidas Gulaptis) in the toilet.
Now that the concern about the moral finger in “A Nice Girl Like You” is off the table, we can judge the film with a much clearer conscience. The story is directed by brothers Nick and Chris Riedell (“Bad Night”) namely as a classic teen comedy – and just because the topic of sex plays a major role here, that unfortunately doesn’t mean that the film is correspondingly raunchy. Unfortunately, that is probably the biggest point of criticism; “A Nice Girl Like You” focuses on a character who deals with the many facets of sexuality. But scenes in a sex shop, a strip club or an erotic seminar always end in banal gag scenes. Sometimes the main character’s love balls fall out of her vagina at an event, another time Lucy rubs her lips with blood circulation-stimulating pleasure gel, so that shortly afterwards she looks as if a wasp had stung her mouth. The narratively exciting idea of the uptight young woman who actually enjoys discovering new things on her foray through sex shops and strip clubs quickly becomes a pure number revue that makes no use of its promising starting point. Ultimately, Lucy doesn’t necessarily have to be a prude – all of these gags would work just as well in the context of a classic “American Pie” comedy.
“’A Nice Girl Like You’ focuses on a character who deals with the many facets of sexuality. But scenes in a sex shop, a strip club or an erotic seminar always end up in banal gag scenes.”
The coming-of-age aspect remains more of a side note in “A Nice Girl Like You” At the latest when next to Lucy Hale (“Truth or Dare”) also her later love interest Leonidas Gulaptis (“Gala & Godfrey”) When Grant, aka Grant, comes onto the stage, you know that in the end it’s more about how a man and a woman get to know each other in a detour and fall in love with each other over time. The chemistry between the two newcomers is good – unfortunately also because both actors don’t exactly stand out because of their particularly strong acting. Lucy Hale does a convincing job of acting as a klutz, but her limited expressions make it difficult to believe that she has any emotions other than a brief feeling of fright or embarrassment in her quieter moments. Leonidas Gulaptis, on the other hand, embodies a mother-in-law’s favorite. Always a little arrogant, but consistently charming, he has just as much fun with his role as his colleague Hale, but because the script doesn’t give him much to do, the greatest fascination with his character is limited to surface charms.
A skyline – a popular RomCom backdrop.
Mindy Cohn tears alongside the protagonist couple (“The Facts of Life”) and Jackie Cruz (“Orange is the new Black”) the film itself. The two act as Lucy’s crazy girlfriends Priscilla and Nessa, whose sexual openness provides a nice contrast to the prudish Lucy. The two of them are also the ones who remind the viewer again and again that “A Nice Girl Like You” is actually about sex. Because the more the script (Andrea Marcellus, “Out of the Wedding”) the more the amorous rapprochement between Lucy and Grant comes into focus, the more the sex plot is reduced to maneuvering the story out of a narrative dead end at a few crucial moments. For example, when the situation between the two is actually heading towards a happy ending and Grant suddenly runs away in panic when faced with hundreds of plastic dildos. The fact that “A Nice Girl Like You” remains an entertaining experience right up to the end – especially for the target group of adolescent girls between the ages of 12 and 16 – is due to the thoroughly positive atmosphere. When young girls want to explore sex for the first time, the film unashamedly gives them some nice starting points, even if you never see much skin and many scenes are ultimately sacrificed for quick gags.
“The more the script focuses on the amorous rapprochement between Lucy and Grant, the more the sex plot is reduced to maneuvering the story out of a narrative dead end at a few crucial moments.”
In terms of staging, “A Nice Girl Like You” doesn’t stand out from the majority of standard Hollywood romances. On the contrary: some furnishing decisions seem completely out of touch with reality – such as letting the main character live alone in a huge property, even though she can hardly finance it through her work as an orchestra musician. Cameraman Nico Van den Berg (“My Brother’s Shoes”) relies on a high-gloss look with no corners or edges. The soundtrack consists of pleasant up-tempo pop songs and soul evergreens. Everything seems a little plastic, just like the starry-faced leading actress. At least the film itself is lively enough that in the right mood it can provide 90 minutes of fun.
Conclusion: Even though Nick and Chris Riedell do little with the promising idea of a curious porn and sex newbie, there’s no denying that A Nice Girl Like You is thoroughly likeable.
“A Nice Girl Like You” can be seen in USA cinemas from September 24th.