Written, directed and starring Cooper Raiff, Cha Cha Real Smooth is about recent college grad Andrew who is trying to find his place in the world. Working a dead-end fast food job and living at home with his mother (Leslie Mann), stepfather (Brad Garrett) and brother (Evan Assante) he takes on a side gig as party host for the summer’s Bar Mitzvah circuit. That’s where he meets the mysterious Domino (Dakota Johnson) and her autistic daughter Lola (Vanessa Burghardt). Little does he know, they will change his life forever.
Let me start by saying that the hype for this movie is real. Receiving rave reviews at this year’s Sundance Festival, there was no way I would miss out on this one. I didn’t expect it to hit as hard as it did and yet here we are.
Although I am not familiar with Raiff’s work, he is quite the triple threat. His portrayal of Andrew is awkward and so very realistic; how many of us have struggled to figure out what we want to do after we finish school? It’s no secret that I’m a Dakota Johnson fan. Her performance here was endearing and honest and the two balanced each other well. The big stand out for me, however, was Vanessa Burghardt. Autistic in real life as well as on screen, she’s got such a career ahead of her and I can’t wait to see where it takes her.
The simplicity of the plot added a factor of intimacy I didn’t know I needed. It almost allowed me to look into the characters’ minds and learn exactly what makes them tick. I found myself laughing along with them, just as I found myself tearing up at certain moments. That conversation about depression, for example, was so on point that I couldn’t help nodding along in agreeance to what was being said.
Cha Cha Real Smooth is a movie that should not be missed. I don’t care if you don’t have Apple TV+. Find a way to watch it. I guarantee it will touch you in one way or another and will stay with you long after the screen turns black.