ON THE LINEPG
Two members of the obscenely popular boy band *NSync make their movie debuts in On the Line, a cheap little throwaway of a film. *NSync is comprised of what Lisa Kudrow on MTV once hilariously described as "the five dreamiest white boys on the planet." With the possible exception of lead singer Justin Timberlake, they're actually all a bit on the goofy-looking side, but this very clunkiness only adds to their mass appeal. Where they're unbeatable is on the dance floor: Moving to the beat of their irresistibly catchy pop hits, they become galvanized and their ultra-precise, funky, sexy choreography has a real charge and sizzle. Insanely, On the Line is bereft of any real musical moments and it's left to the charisma of the two present members, star/producer Lance Bass and Joey Fatone (whose surname rather unfortunately also describes his physical designation in the band), to tide things over.
On a Chicago subway one day, hopeless romantic adman Kevin (Bass) meets Abbey (Emmanuelle Chriqui). They connect, but part ways before he has gotten her name and all-important digits. His haplessness in love matters earns him the derision of his slacker-ish gang of friends, headed by dim bulb Rod (Fatone). Frantic, Kevin plasters the town with posters seeking the girl's whereabouts, his story gets picked up by a newspaper, and soon all Chi-town is avidly following his exploits.
On the Line is fluffy in the extreme and obviously made on a shoestring, but, using basically the same formula as Serendipity, it manages to be a lot fresher and more appealing than that expensive, elaborately contrived, decidedly lackluster effort. The film delivers on its admittedly modest mission--to painlessly effect a pop star's transition to movie actor--despite being not very subtle. There's the blatant product placement, from McDonald's to Reebok, and soul star Al Green is hauled out to perform some of his hits in updated, super-fast versions that nearly sound as if they're being played at the wrong speed. With his toothsome, slightly wall-eyed, apple-cheeked look, Bass defines "cherubic," and is the very sort of non-threatening boy sub-teens dote upon. Thankfully, he's also an able actor and gives Kevin a low-key, Everyguy charm that does have you rooting for him. He's certainly more sympathetic than his idiotic posse, a passel of slobs who do everything they can to stymie his romantic quest. Fatone functions well, however, as low comedian here, possessed of frantic high spirits, kicking over amplifiers and beset with a flatulence problem. (That last does wear thin.) Demi Moore-voiced Chriqui is sincere and not drop-dead gorgeous, which, helpfully, won't alienate young legions of Bass fans in the hinterlands. Writer-director Eric Bross' work won't win any awards, but he has savvily filled his cast with a bunch of deft comedians: Dave Foley as Kevin's gingko-obsessed boss, witty Tamala Jones as an office rival, Jerry Stiller as a mailroom employee (although does he always have to let the audience know about his bowel movements in every film appearance)?