Netflix is doing a wonderful job of releasing a variety of mindless entertainment to pass the time during a global pandemic, and their new rom-com Desperados fits the bill perfectly. It’s the ideal chick flick to watch as the protagonist Wesley (Nasim Pedrad) encounters a variety of obstacles to her haphazard plan to delete a furious email she sent to her new boyfriend before he sees it. It’s a simple idea with a ton of potential for ridiculous scenarios, and Desperados covers nearly all of them.
The plot of this kind of film requires a specific lead and Wesley encapsulates the standard flawed, amusing heroine; she’s impulsive, unlucky in love, speaks her mind, and is a little desperate. Nasim Pedrad is delightful in this role because while her character has wild ideas and acts outlandishly, she brings a lot of heart and wit to Wesley, making her someone you want to root for.
Desperados is an advocate of telling stories through women’s unique viewpoints (like portraying the passage of time by how many birth control pills Wesley has taken), and that sort of detail is what makes it a satisfying watch despite some missteps. Wesley’s two best friends, Brooke (Anna Camp) and Kaylie (Sarah Burns), also provide much-needed balance to the chaotic energy of Wesley. The film is grounded in the strong female relationships between its three friends, which is another appealing aspect of the story because it beautifully captures the ups and downs of female friendships. In addition, Brooke and Kaylie are not entirely subsumed by Wesley’s dramatic arc, and their individual stories (Brooke’s pending divorce, Kaylie’s difficulties getting pregnant) are nicely developed and resolved. The story needed conflict that felt genuine and legitimate and Brooke and Kaylie’s struggles lent more credibility. I only wish we could have seen more of them in the film.
The story builds in moments where Wesley finds herself in preposterous scenarios, but I found the cringeworthy moments to be too off-putting. The subplots involving a young child suddenly obsessed with Wesley, and a scene with a dolphin felt uncomfortable and forced. At these times I actually wanted to turn Desperados off, but the idea this film was trying to explore ‘Adam-Sandler-esque’ territory (but with women), made me interested enough to keep going and give things a chance. It was difficult though to believe how much the people around Wesley enabled her hare-brained schemes, and for her to think that any of it was a good idea? It felt incongruous for such a likeable person to make so many idiotic errors of judgement.
The crux of the plot revolves around Wesley’s “dream man” boyfriend Jared (Robbie Amnell) and her attempt to be the perfect girlfriend despite all the red flags Jared puts up. But it’s a secondary character that stood out for me, as Sean (Lamorne Morris) became the person who helps her out the most. In the beginning, Wesley goes on a terrible first date with Sean but they coincidentally meet again later and the script comes alive with their antagonistic banter. The actors have a great rapport and their interchanges are entertaining, if not awkward at times.
Desperados is directed by LP, who shoots it beautifully and made me want to visit the stunning Mexico resort with its gorgeous beaches as soon as possible. LP’s direction also created more interest and energy in a story with a pretty straightforward plot and she undoubtedly found ways to amplify the talent of the cast.
It’s difficult to rate Desperados because there are so many high and low points. Overall the plot is weal, implausible, and sadly not too funny. But the character relationships drew me into the narrative and I enjoyed its nuanced depiction of female friendships. Sometimes you disagree with your friends or take them for granted, but they’re an important part of your life, and Wesley’s bond with her girlfriends is explored well. The movie is escapist fun with a strong ensemble cast and enjoyable moments. You won’t get too invested in it, but it’ll pass the time and hopefully make you smile.
USA | 2020 | 105 MINUTES | 1.85:1 | COLOUR | ENGLISH
Cast & Crew
writer: Ellen Rappaport.
starring: Nasim Pedrad, Anna Camp, Sarah Burns, Jessica Chaffin, Toby Grey, Mo Gaffney, Izzy Diaz, Robbie Amell & Heather Graham.