Ask Me to Dance is the sort of self-aware romantic comedy that successfully plays with its chosen tropes while maintaining an earnest, endearing heart. How self-aware? Well, its romantic leads are Jack (Tom Malloy) and Jill (Briana Evigan), two lonelyhearts who happen to separately meet the same enigmatic fortuneteller the night after Christmas. She tells them they’ll meet the love of their lives before the end of the year. Do the math: With five days to spare, any date might be the one.
That also means the two each embark upon dating sprees, with charming results, as they build up to their eventual meet-cute. Their friends do their best to match them up with potential partners, but nothing sticks. Jack and Jill contend with the self-obsessed, the shallow and the strange, always coming near meeting but never quite connecting. They’re both likable people with healthy professional lives (who just so happen to work at the same company, unbeknownst to them). It’s just a matter of coming face to face with fate.
The fun is in the journey, and with Ask Me to Dance, it’s genuinely a pleasure. Malloy and Evigan give their characters the sort of everyday-person qualities that work wonders in romantic comedies. You want them to be together. Their near-misses are frustrating but fun. Their bad dates? All well-conceived. It feels like there’s a worse version of this story where things go really, really poorly, or one of the main characters is a jerk and has to learn a lesson before finding true love. I prefer the simple, human, humorous route Malloy (who also wrote and directed the film) has taken. From the onset, it’s clear the New Year’s Eve wedding between their mutual friends will form a perfect connection point, and that everything until that event is just prelude. But it’s fun, it’s witty and it’s pretty comforting.