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THE MOVIE: What Love Is

Cuba Gooding Jr • Sean Astin • Gina Gershon • Matthew Lillard
DIRECTOR: Mars Callahan

Cuba Gooding Jr, Andrew Daly and Matthew Lillard THE CONCEPT:
Before Tom Riley (Gooding Jr) leaves the bar to go home to propose to his live-in girlfriend, he tells a group of his best friends to meet him at his house for a surprise celebration. But when Tom gets home he discovers his girlfriend has moved out leaving him a Dear John letter. When his friends begin arriving for the party, the night unfolds into many frank discussions and contrasting opinions and perspectives on relationships, love, marriage and romance.

U.S. RELEASE: March 23 2007, Limited • Rated: R


“We would do 40-minute takes, so that we would get into a run with the dialogue. Between ‘action’ and ‘cut’ we were doing 30 to 45 pages at a time. There was a choreography that had to happen between all five cameras to get everybody on camera at the same time. The trick is that you have to have the entire movie memorized before you start filming. I had gotten the screenplay on the Thursday, and we started filming on Monday, so we only had two or three days of rehearsal.”

“I play a very interesting character whose name is Sal, who kind of considers himself a wannabe gangster. He’s got these opinions about relationships and homosexuals, and he has complete conviction in what he says. Mars Callahan is pushing the boundaries the way David Mamet pushed the boundaries when he did it. In the movie Sal just got his heart broken, so he’s angry, and he carries around a gun. He’s a schmuck.”

“It was easier to learn all of this dialogue where you’re inspired to say the things on the page than to do two or three lines in a movie that you don’t believe in. There are situations where it might be a good movie, but the dialogue doesn’t make any sense to you, so it’s harder to memorize.”

“The movie takes place in one night, and I don’t think you write a movie about a normal night, you write a movie about a night that’s incredible. Mars’ goal was to shoot a movie in 24 hours. He wanted to shoot three 8 hour days and be able to say we shot a movie in 24 hours. Given the circumstances, a movie usually takes at least 8 weeks. We didn’t end up making it in 24 hours; we probably did it in six days. Mars has a vision and there’s nothing more exciting as an actor to be involved with somebody that’s trying to do something different and original.”

“The movie definitely spurs conversation, heated debate between men and women, but I think in a good way. It’s informative and in some respects it’s just outright outlandish as far as the context of what’s being said. The gig for me was to be involved with something that makes such a powerful statement when it comes to relationships.”

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

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Feature © 2007 Visual Imagination.
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Film Review, #682, May 2007 cover

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