Kendra and Zach are cute. So cute, in fact, that they are the cutest couple in their circle of friends, and everyone tells them so. Repeatedly. However, in writer/director Courtney Moorehead Balaker’s first film, Cute Couple, Kendra and Zach undergo a couplehood identity crisis when an even more adorable couple comes along and changes the group dynamic.
Balaker’s clever short comedy was the audience favorite at the Jackson Hole Film Festival in 2008, and it’s easy to see why. Balaker’s style is bright, straight forward, and entertaining, with plenty of scenery-chewing moments for the engaging cast. Actress (and Cute Couple producer) Siobhan Mahoney is especially fun to watch as Kendra; she handles eyelash-batting adorableness and doughnut-stuffing desperation with equal aplomb. Much of the cast is pulled from the LA sketch-comedy group The Exploding Pajamas, and they have a pleasantly goofy chemistry on screen. Fans of MTV’s Undressed will immediately recognize actress Jenny Wade as Tammy, the appealingly pregnant newcomer and baby clothing designer who usurps Kendra’s place in their friends’ hearts.
As likable as Cute Couple is, I couldn’t help but wish Balaker had taken the concept a step (or two) further. Kendra and Zach are quite frantic to win back the admiration of their friends, frantic enough to reinvent themselves as "the artsy couple," to change careers, hobbies, and wardrobes. Their desperation (and we find out later, the desperation of their friends) is the film’s comedic essence and driving force. If Balaker had let that mood completely take over, maybe even have let the comedy tinge towards the dark, the finished film would pack more of a punch. Instead, the film stays on its even keel, and despite the increasing frenetic energy of the actors, doesn’t reach the status of truly memorable.