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EAT WHEATIES!: 3 ½ STARS. “a tightly paced comedy about kindness.”

Mild mannered office worker Sid Straw, played by “Veep”/”Arrested Development” star Tony Hale in the new V.O.D. comedy “Eat Wheaties!,” claims to be a close acquittance of “Huger Games” star Elizabeth Banks.

“There is no such thing,” says her manager (Sarah Chalke).

As the cringe comedy begins Sid is unlucky in love, an expert in saying the wrong thing, misreading signals and trying too hard. “I understand that I am not the most exciting person out there,” he says. When he is named co-chair of the upcoming University of Pennsylvania’s reunion it is the beginning of a spiral. Setting up a Facebook page to publicize the event, he repeatedly messages Banks, an alumnus he claims to have been acquainted with decades ago.

Not realizing the posts are public, he bombards her account with a series of personal notes inviting her to the reunion. His many messages go unnoticed by the star but not her team, who file a restraining order against him. When the posts go viral—“What does that mean?” he asks.—his life unwinds as he is publicly and personally humiliated.

Based on the novel “The Locklear Letters” by Michael Kun, “Eat Wheaties!” (that was Banks’ catchphrase in school), is a mix of tragedy and comedy, made human by Hale’s performance. Sid could have been a collection of quirks but Hale paints him differently.  Sid is a lovable loser and Hale plays him as a sweet, lonely guy, oblivious to the hole he’s digging for himself.

Hale is supported by a great supporting cast, including Paul Walter Hauser, Elisha Cuthbert, Lamorne Morris and Robbie Amell, who play off Sid’s social awkwardness with good-natured sympathy.

“Eat Wheaties!” is a tightly paced comedy which is more about kindness and doing the right thing than it is about knee slapping jokes. It is occasionally knee-slapping funny but the laughs come from kind-heartedness, not cruelty and that makes this quirky comedy a winner.

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