The real reason ‘N Sync called it quits. Lance Bass, Joey Fatone, Emmanuelle Chriqui, and Jerry Stiller star in On the Line.
Director – Eric Boss
Screenplay – Eric Aronson & Paul Stanton
Producer – Wendy Thorlakson & Rich Hull
Rated PG for language and some crude humor
Kevin (Lance Bass) is an Chicago advertiser that, along with his snooty colleague Jackie (Tamala Jones), is in the midst of a potentially successful pitch for Reebok. One day, while on the train heading back home, he meets Abbey (Emmanuelle Chriqui). She sweeps him off his feet and instantly falls in love with her (as expected in a film like this), ’cause they share never-ending bonds of love such as the Chicago Cubs, Al Green and the fact that they both can recite every American president from Washington to Bush 43. However, he’s too stupid or shy or whatever to ask for her name and number.
It’s Lance Bass, so I think we know the real reason. Wink-wink, nudge-nudge. Get it?!
Realizing how much of an idiot he was, and needing to stretch what was originally a short film into a tortuous feature-length film, Kevin posts ad posters throughout the city imploring Abbey to call him (not kidding). This creates a media frenzy throughout the town, wondering who this mystery guy and gal are. His buddies – douche Eric (GQ), douche art aficionado Randy (James Bulliard) and aspiring musician and douche Rod (Joey Fatone) – plan to help. Of course, when that happens, you know everything will go exactly as planned and no one will get hurt or humiliated in the process.
Before Justin and Kelly, and before Britney, there was Justin Timber – wait. What? Lance Bass and Joey Fatone? Who the hell are they? They might as well have gotten that other ‘N Sync member no one gives a damn about.
I can just picture the pitch meeting that took place at Miramax…
“Mr. Weinstein, sir?”
“What? I’m busy polishing my Oscar for Shakespeare in Love. Spielberg can suck my fat one!”
“Mr. Weinstein, Your Honor, we have a pitch for you that could rake in millions for Miramax. Fox is pimpin’ out Mariah Carey with Glitter later this year – which I hear is gonna be box office gold – and we just found out that Paramount cornered the Britney Spears market with plans for a film called Crossroads. Sir, Your Highness, we need to strike while the iron’s hot and corner the ‘N Sync market.”
“You know what? That’s exactly what this company needs.”
“I’ll get in touch with Timberlake’s agent…”
“Nope. No can do. Timberlake’s busy promoting his cinematic triumph, the Disney Channel original film Model Behavior.”
“Well, how the hell are we gonna get to them before some other studio does? Mr. Weinstein, Your Excellency, I have two guys working on the script right now. As far as romances go that really capture true, raw, genuine emotion and the essence of unconditional love, this is gonna put Casablanca to shame. Every studio known to man would be crazy not to be chomping at the bit for this film.”
“We can always get Chris Kirkpatrick.”
“Who the hell is that?”
“Yeah, you’re right. Believe it or not, he just lip-synchs tracks pre-recorded by Timberlake anyway. Timberlake and Chasez just play nice by posting any songs he contributes on the fridge for him. They’re pretty cute. He writes them in crayon. We’ll have to go for the next two irrelevant members of the group – Lance Bass and Joey Fatone.”
“Should I get in touch with their agents?”
“Oh, no need for that. Trust me. Those two’s schedules are pretty open. No one shows up to the autograph signings when it’s just them.”
“Well, Almighty Lord Weinstein, when this is all said and done, I have a feeling you’re gonna be polishing off another Best Picture trophy. And if not… I will blow my brains out from shock.”
I know. You’re out there thinking this is too easy and I’m just bullying a little film that’s not even marketed toward my demographic. Well, prep up those anti-bullying PSAs ’cause here I go.
As far as romantic comedies go, On the Line makes From Justin to Kelly seem plausible. Its only sign of genuineness is having the adult characters play their high school selves by simply giving them all hat head.
Apparently, that makes you look younger.
This entire movie, all 85 minutes of it, revolves around how much of an imbecile Lance Bass’s Kevin (who goes through the entire film with this perpetual deer in the headlights stare) is. He finds himself completely smitten with this woman the very moment he sets his eyes on her, yet never once in their entire conversation together does he say, “Hey, I’m Kevin. What’s your name? Abbey? Well, guess what, Abbey? We just spared the entire world from having to see the rest of this film. I bet you feel good about yourself now.” Yet, in spite of his stupidity, he feels confident enough that she’s the love of his life and they’re destined to be together forever. He must’ve come to that realization somewhere around President Millard Fillmore as they were giddily reciting all the presidents in unison. Believe it or not, I myself hope to find a girl that shares similar interests in me, such as…
- She must be looking for a committed relationship.
- Like-minded life and spiritual values would be a plus.
- She must absolutely, no exceptions, love track #5 – “Once Around the Ride” – off of Cinderella’s 1986 debut album Night Songs, and be prepared to belt it out together with me during our first date, preferably at a Wendy’s.
- I swear to God, if I find out that bitch can’t recite every actor – both TV and film – who portrayed Agent 007 James Bond (yes, that’s counting David Niven in the 1967 spy comedy Casino Royale, and Sean Connery counts as three separate eras, Roger Moore two) in exact order, she can walk her ass out the door.
How does this all get remedied? Well, obviously, he posts an “Are you her?” ad all throughout the city – not forgetting to mention the essentials of Cubs, Al Green and president reciting – begging her to call him back. You gotta realize Myspace and Facebook weren’t around for him to stalk his way to her. This was the only rational means of going off the obsessive deep end that he had available to him.
To be fair, Kevin’s just as idiotic friends call him out on how dumb he is for not once asking for her name. The movie should’ve just ended there, with Kevin realizing it’s over, he’d never ever meet his dream girl again, and then spends the rest of his nights drowning his sorrows into an open liquor bottle. But, no, instead we get an even more preposterous plan with Kevin’s friends siphoning off the women calling for Kevin as their dates. As you’d expect, one ends up being Abbey, who gets Eric – the mastermind behind the whole plan. Eric could easily diffuse the awkwardness between them with just a couple sentences like, “No, wait. This is my fault. I’ll take you to Kevin.” Instead, he figures why be moderately dumb when you can go fult tilt boogie into having as much brains as a human vegetable by saying, “Oh, yeah, this was all Kevin’s idea.”
Just think, from 2007-2008 the WGA writers went on strike ’cause they felt they weren’t being paid enough.
If there’s any redeeming value to be found in this film, it’s Emmanuelle Chriqui. Despite the fact that she could’ve saved us the viewing trouble and Kevin the trouble of having to strain his brain hard enough to think of the words to say in asking for her name by just telling him herself, Chriqui has a radiant presence and a likeable personality. That said, she can have all the presence and personality in the world, but it’s stunted by this horrible script and non-existent chemistry between her and Bass. You’re better off finding electric chemistry and a purer connection here…
- Oil and water
- Kanye West and humility.
- The rotted corpses of Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet
- Justin Guarini and Kelly Clarkson
Obviously, everything gets wrapped up very tidily by the end. Joey Fatone’s Rod (who always feels compelled to spaz out every time he plays his guitar) gets to meet his rock ‘n’ roll idol (a third person talking Richie Sambora), who conveniently received Rod’s demo tape from Kevin and shows up just in time to offer him a contract on his new record label. This, while Rod also ends up getting the girl of his dreams as well. Eric and Randy realize they’re douches and learn their lesson. Jackie realizes she was a bitch to Kevin and makes him head of the Reebok project. And, of course, to win the girl, Kevin shows up at the train station where he and Abbey first met, to the cheers and applause of practically every Chicagoan in the area. You’re almost led to believe she’s not gonna show up, and a part of me was thinking this could get entertaining. Abbey blows him off, Kevin is sad about it, then he jumps off the station bridge to his death. Nope. She shows up fashionably late, and they kiss and he finally gets her name and number. Congrats, viewer. You wasted 85 minutes just to find out her name.
They lived happily ever after… well, until 2006 when he came out of the closet.
Clearly marketed toward the ‘N Sync teeny-boppers, On the Line’s greatest achievement is having a VHS copy of it placed on top of Justin Timberlake’s shrine. It’s a reminder to him that he co-starred in Alpha Dog, Inside Llewyn Davis and the Oscar winning The Social Network as he thanks his lucky stars that it was his boy band comrades Bass and Fatone that were targeted for this and not him. With it’s childish dialogue, preposterous narrative and a sugary sweet, ooey-gooey ending that’ll knock you out into a diabetic coma before the end credits roll, all the ipecac in the world couldn’t induce vomiting quicker than this film. The characters may have a collective IQ of 4, but if it was any higher we wouldn’t get this triumph of 21st century cinema.