Tell Me What You Know, by David Bax
Any movie that consists almost entirely of two people in one location talking to each other necessitates both a good screenplay and good performers to execute it. Max Nichols’s Two Night Stand, despite a pretty intriguing what-if hook, comes up short on both counts.
The hook is, what if a one night stand was forced to continue for a further day? What would you do if you were stuck with a person you planned never to see again once you parted ways? It’s likely you’ll find yourself playing out this scenario in your head for yourself during the duller parts of the movie.
Analeigh Tipton plays Megan, a single, unemployed college grad encouraged by her roommate (Gossip Girl’s Jessica Szohr) to get the hell out of the apartment, even if it means a sordid hookup via a dating site. She lands on the profile of Alec (Miles Teller). The next morning, they wake up in his apartment to find that a blizzard has trapped them inside together.
Teller may possess charm but he also has a habit of playing to the level of his costars. In The Spectacular Now, alongside Shailene Woodley and Kyle Chandler, he found a wounded depth below his huckster-with-a-heart-of-gold patter. Here, though, he has only relative newcomer Tipton to bounce off of and he retreats to the proto-Vince Vaughn tics that were on display in 21 & Over. He has all the slickness of Vaughn’s Trent from Swingers but none of the danger. Tipton, meanwhile, could easily have been the star of her high school drama club but there isn’t a moment in Two Night Stand where you won’t catch her acting.
If there’s a slight mismatch in the cast, there’s a major one in the characters. It would be interesting if the battle-of-the-sexes war of conversation were rooted in two worthwhile points of view but the imbalance between the leads deflates the dramatic tension. Alec is self-confident even when he’s wrong but he’s also assured enough to recognize his faults when they’re pointed out to him. Megan, on the other hand, is a mess in the clunky and familiar way that too many female characters are a mess when they’re without a boyfriend. When Megan points out how pathetic it is that she’s a men’s magazine cliché, it’s hard not to agree with her.
Laziness pervades in Two Night Stand. It doesn’t start and stop with the characters. The corny, sitcom-caper score, the irritating trope of stalker behavior being depicted as cute, the stupid joke based on the assumption that a person with a black friend can’t be racist; we’ve seen all of this before and we didn’t like it the first time.
It’s a fine premise. But Two Night Stand fails by forcing two people to spend a day and a half in close quarters only to learn that all the gender stereotypes you’ve heard about are true.