Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. They fight. They break up. They realize they can’t live without each other. The end. A tale as old time. Or is it? The rom-com is a cinematic staple and is becoming increasingly difficult to find fresh angles to bring to the genre. “RelationTrip” sets out to subvert these tropes that we have come to know by heart.
Liam and Beck meet at a party, find some common ground in their anti-relationship declarations, and decide to go on a “Friendship friend trip” to the desert. Their quirkiness soon becomes a point of attraction to one another, strictly as friends of course. Unwilling to reveal their true selves, due to failed relationships in the past, they become haunted by their insecurities and must overcome the decision of how much they are willing to unveil. Their insecurities become the jumping point to the surreal, soon revealing this is anything but your typical romantic-comedy.
In one instance, Beck slips off to the restroom, only to be taunted by a puppet who berates her over failed relationships, and why her and Liam can’t work out because of her baggage. It’s a moment from left field that tells you exactly what this movie will be, and will be a turning point for viewers. Not everyone will be on board, but I think it has the makings of finding a cult following.
Matt Bush (Liam) and Renee Felice Smith (Beck) bounce off each other with ease, making them easy to root for. The insecurities their characters’ face bring a great deal of realism and helps to ground this story, serving as a good counterbalance to its surreal other half. The way these characters manifest their worries and frustrations into very literal creations gives this movie a unique edge that may be right at home with fans of Spike Jonze.
Liam and Beck are afraid to become too emotionally attached, which can keep the viewer emotionally distant to these characters as well. Emotional attachment is something that could have benefited this story when the surreal and bizarre starts to take over. The number of visual gags causes a slight rift that keeps the viewer from fully being engaged with these characters, but the actors keep things likable and charming. The filmmakers deserve to be commended putting all of their chips down on this premise and not backing away from it.
For those who are tired of traditional cliches often found in this genre, I recommend taking a dive into the unique world of The Relationtrip.