the_other_end_of_the_line01Romantic comedies are all about two unlikely people beating the odds to become a happy couple by the time the credits roll. Dorky Harry meets beautiful Sally. Pretty Woman of the Night meets and is seduced by suave rich guy. You get the idea. In the new film The Other End of the Line two young, beautiful people must overcome odds both geographical and cultural before they can have their happy ending.

The cross cultural romantic journey begins as advertising executive Granger Woodruff (Jesse Metcalfe, best known for his role as the muscled teenage gardener on Desperate Housewives) chats on the phone with a customer service woman (Bollywood star Shriya Saran) in India who is pretending to be American. When their flirtation heats up to a boiling point she decides to take a drastic step, leave her fiancée behind and fly to San Francisco to hook up with the voice on the other end of the phone. It wouldn’t be a romantic comedy without a bit of complication, so when she arrives in the States she decides to keep her true identity a secret. Romantic hi-jinks ensue.

I searched to find something, anything redeeming about The Other End of the Line, but a quick look at the notes I made while watching the movie says it all. “Looks like a bad karaoke video,” I wrote at one point. “By-the-book rom com,” was the next entry. “Jesse Metcalfe has negative charisma,” went another. The capper came when the woman sitting next to me leaned over, with an aggrieved look on her face and moaned, “This is painful.”

The whole script feels like it was Frankensteined together using discarded bits and pieces from other, more successful romantic comedies. I counted only two real laughs, both late in the movie, by which point I had pretty much given up the will to live, so perhaps my defenses were down and I was so desperate for entertainment that I would laugh at anything. Only my professional obligation to stay until the final credits kept me in my seat. If I had seen this movie on a airplane I still would have wanted to walk out. It’s that bad.

Poorly edited and senseless scenes bleed into one another for a mind numbing 106 minutes of brutal cinematic torture. The occasional spark—mostly delivered by the Indian family who appear to be acting in an entirely different movie—is dampened by a ham-fisted script, even worse direction and the nonexistent chemistry between the leads; two, supposedly star-crossed, lovers.

On paper The Other End of the Line looks like a good rom com. There are two attractive leads, exotic locations and a star-crossed-lovers storyline, but unfortunately not even the fetching Indian actress Shriya Saran in her first English role can save the movie from the slag heap of cinematic waste.