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‘Caffeine’ a double shot of dry humor, good storytelling

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By Tyler Davidson

By Tyler Davidson

When watching a film like John Cosgrove’s “Caffeine,” one can’t help but be reminded of 2005’s raunchy “Waiting…” Both take place in dining establishments (a London café and a Chili’s-esque restaurant, respectively), and both focus primarily on the staff of each workplace.

The most prominent difference, however, is the different approaches to humor that the films take. “Caffeine,” being set in England, adopts the dry sense of humor that most British comedies are known for, whereas “Waiting…” takes on comedy of the more lowbrow variety. As such, “Caffeine” is funny without seeming to try too hard; it doesn’t stretch too far for a cheap laugh or two.

The cast of “Caffeine” is a mixture of well-known American actors as well as those more familiar to the British. While the movie is primarily centered around Rachel (Marsha Thomason), the manager of the café, and her unfaithful boyfriend Charlie (Callum Blue), the chef, it is the supporting cast that steals the show.

Most of the laughs in the film come from the duo of Mike and Danny, portrayed hilariously by Andrew Lee Potts and Mike Vogel. While audiences may only remember Vogel from his seemingly endless lineup of cinematic faux-pas (“Grind,” 2003’s remake of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “Supercross,” “Poseidon”…I think you get my point), he is one of the highlights of “Caffeine.” Pulling off a flawless British accent, he plays a womanizing foil to Potts’ portrayal of Mike.

Mike is one of the first characters introduced in the film, stoned out of his gourd and becoming more and more paranoid by the second, about everything around him. His suspicions range from innocent bystanders in the washroom thinking he is gay, to a deranged old woman eye balling him from a nearby booth. Potts, while having very limited American acting credits, is by far the funniest character in “Caffeine,” and looks to have a bright future in character acting.

The rest of the picture plays out seamlessly, overlapping several stories in a manner that isn’t confusing nor unnecessary. All of the scenarios that both the staff as well as the patrons of the Black Cat Café find themselves in are believable, yet unusual enough to elicit guffaws from even the most stone-faced of moviegoers (while still managing to remain somewhat tasteful, which is much more than what could be said for “Waiting…”)

For instance, one of the subplots in “Caffeine” finds a pair of lawyers, John and David (Andrew Abelson and Mark Dymond), meeting in the café to discuss some extraordinary circumstances; John, while relieving himself in an alleyway, was spotted by a child, and is now being accused by the police of indecent exposure.

In a panic, he lies to the authorities, stating that he was with David all night, and now needs a highly unwilling David to corroborate his story. When David refuses to comply, John threatens blackmail with his knowledge of a deep, dark secret of David’s, one which could easily traverse into the realm of the raunchy.

At the same time, another element of the film sees an openly gay waiter (Mark Pellegrino) feuding with an aspiring author (Breckin Meyer.) The two are at each other’s throats at work, yet their intolerance of each other takes an unexpected turn towards the end of the film. It says something for this type of movie that there can exist subplots like this, as well as that of John and David’s, and yet the film’s dignity remains intact.

“Caffeine” is a worthwhile comedy that, sadly, will most likely not be seen by many. To its credit, it possesses a highly talented cast, a well-written script, tasteful humor, and most importantly, no Dane Cook.

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