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'A Nice Girl Like You' review: Lucy Hale sex comedy never brings the heat

Lucy Hale as Lucy Neal in Vertical Entertainment'

Lucy Hale as Lucy Neal in Vertical Entertainment' "A Nice Girl Like You", 2020. Credit: Vertical Entertainment

PLOT An inhibited young woman compiles a sexual to-do list.

CAST Lucy Hale, Leonidas Gulaptis, Mindy Cohn

RATED R (sexual themes and images)

LENGTH 1:34

WHERE On demand

BOTTOM LINE A clunky sex comedy that’ll kill your mood.

A sheltered young woman embarks on a journey of sexual discovery in “A Nice Girl Like You,” a romantic comedy from the sibling directors Chris and Nick Riedell. That’s how the movie might describe itself, at least. In reality, “A Nice Girl Like You” is a strangely timid sex comedy that falls short of its comedic-erotic potential and withholds all but the most traditional pleasures from its heroine.

Lucy Hale, the petite-sized star of “Pretty Little Liars,” plays Lucy Neal, an aspiring concert violinist with talent, smarts and looks. Sadly, she has a libido problem: It isn't just low, it's comatose. Lying underneath her boyfriend, Jeff (appealing Stephen Friedrich), her mind wanders to her grocery list. She’s horrified to discover that Jeff seeks satisfaction at a porn site, and she’s insulted when he calls her “pornophobic.” After they break up, Lucy makes another list, this one consisting of 12 sexual to-do items.

It’s a titillating premise inspired by a memoir by Ayn Carillo-Gailey, who once wrote a column called “Sex y LA” for the Los Angeles magazine Ciudad. (Andrea Marcellus wrote the screenplay.) Initially, we’re willing to join Lucy’s journey, which promises new experiences and broken taboos. We can tolerate the obligatory hunk, Grant (a likeable Leonidas Gulaptis), who will most likely give Lucy the “big boom” she’s looking for. What’s more, we have the always-welcome Mindy Cohn, of TV’s classic series “The Facts of Life,” who plays Lucy’s confidant, Priscilla. At 54, Cohn can still punch up a line and steal a scene. She’s great company.

When it comes to Lucy’s sexual adventures, though, the filmmakers seem terrified of anything but the safest jokes about vibrators and blow-up dolls. Lucy’s list feels scholarly, almost clinical: Watch dirty movies, read dirty books, go to a sex seminar. Isn’t there anything Lucy would like to actually, y’know, do?

Even when she tries, the movie won’t let her. In one scene, Lucy applies for a job at a Las Vegas brothel, which is the first good idea this comedy has had. Alas, before any fun can be had, she’s flatly rejected. That pretty much sums up this movie: an opportunity blown.

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