Can gonorrhea be funny?
Apparently so — That Burning Feeling is a laugh-out-loud comedy about a shallow guy who rethinks his game after being diagnosed with an STD.
Adam (Paulo Costanzo) is a real estate honcho and a babe magnet. He likes to love 'em and leave 'em, however, never quite learning the names of his one-night stands or ever bothering to call them again.
That changes when his doctor says Paul has gonorrhea. And now it's Paul's job to call up all the women he's had sex with lately and deliver the bad news.
Pity, because he's just met Liv (Ingrid Haas), a woman he's quite attracted to, and he can't do anything about that until he's finished a 30 day cycle of medication. So he gets to know her before they sleep together — what a concept.
As it happens, he and Liv are on opposing sides of a big real estate deal. She wants to conserve the neighbourhood, while Adam and his New Age skeevy boss (John Cho) want to build lots of condos. As you'd expect, Liv begins to influence our hero for the good.
It's not usually a venereal disease that affects character change in romantic comedies, but this story is told with such a light touch that it all works. Adam has to rethink his behaviour, and to make amends, he gets to know all the women who were otherwise just notches in his belt. He makes new friends out of old lovers (played by Emily Hampshire, Jordana Largy and Julia Benson, among others) and grows a conscience, too.
What saves the film from getting bogged down in its own good intentions is the presence of Tyler Labine as Adam's manic neighbour, Frank; Labine and Costanzo have an odd-couple relationship that is the heart of the comedy here. They are hilarious together. And they have some excellent Canadian in-jokes to share — whether it's watching The Littlest Hobo on TV or talking about same-sex marriage in Moose Jaw. Maybe that all comes courtesy of Canadian director and co-writer Jason James? Whatever the source, it's pretty funny.
That Burning Feeling plays like the successful offspring of a sitcom and an After-School TV Special. It's fairly typical of the genre, just funnier and a bit riskier in the way of subject matter. There's a good-hearted quality to this film that gets a viewer on-side. You could do worse at the movies this week.