MOVIE "Resort to Love"
WHERE Streaming on Netflix
WHAT IT'S ABOUT The romantic comedy "Resort to Love" stars Christina Milian as Erica, a singer living in New York City and facing a twin heartbreak as the movie begins: as she's still getting over her fiance Jason (Jay Pharoah) leaving her one month before the wedding, her big musical break falls through as well.
Desperately seeking a change of pace, Erica accepts a job as a singer at a resort in Mauritius, the Indian Ocean island nation that's about as far away from the past as she can get.
But then, wouldn't you know it, Erica meets cute with the handsome Caleb (Sinqua Walls), who rescues her from a near drowning.
Caleb's visiting Erica's resort for the nuptials of his brother Jason — the very same Jason that walked out on her back in New York. His new fiance Beverly (Christiani Pitts) does not know about his past. And Erica has been tasked with performing at their wedding.
MY SAY The selling points for "Resort to Love" are obvious: the sun-swept scenery of Mauritius; the singer-songwriter Milian covering hits such as Alicia Keys' "No One" and Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive"; beautiful people learning to love and let go under quirky circumstances.
If you were a studio executive sitting around an old-school pitch meeting, this would be more than enough for a green light.
But the movie goes beyond a marketing exercise. It's enjoyable escapism and more seriously handled than it had to be, thanks to quality performances across the board and a screenplay by Tabi McCartney and Dana Schmalenberg that treats the characters as recognizable people rather than one-dimensional stereotypes.
Erica remains a proud and clearly defined woman even at her lowest moments; the star resists the easiest comic impulses by offering a clear sense of the character's strength even as her life comes apart at the seams.
Instead of simply vilifying Jason, Pharoah gets the opportunity to paint a more complicated picture. As the back story is filled in, the filmmakers offer a refreshingly intelligent take on the dissolution of his engagement with Erica. It had nothing to do with cheating or another dramatic development, but rather the common reality that they simply want different things.
The "Saturday Night Live" veteran masters subtle gestures that are both funny and sad, particularly in scenes with Erica and Beverly, where notes of comic desperation and panic operate just below the artificially sunny surface.
None of this is to suggest that "Resort to Love" aspires to a consequential examination of why relationships fall apart and how to rebuild from the wreckage.
Remember the sales pitch from the beginning of this review: if you're looking to engage with the movie on a superficial level, it has plenty to offer. And if you want to dig a little bit deeper, that's there, too.
BOTTOM LINE This is a fun and charming movie with more substance than one might have expected.