Rent-a-Friend | Chicago Reader

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A painter (Marc van Uchelen), dumped by his girlfriend because he lacks ambition, hits on the idea of renting himself out as a pal and counselor to the lonely, and his business unexpectedly takes off. This charming, effervescent, and paper-thin romantic comedy from the Netherlands (2000) is clearly influenced by Woody Allen; director Eddy Terstall pokes gentle fun at soap opera addicts (the girlfriend is a scriptwriter who uses her life with the protagonist as source material) and the parade of emotionally needy types who make the novel business a success. But his satire is sometimes too cute to be effective, and the hero's relationships and fantasies are so treacly and predictable that they make Allen's films seem weighty by comparison. 90 min.

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