If you were a young, twenty-something female living in one of the entertainment capitols of the world, how would you go about meeting guys? What if you were socially awkward and had a difficult time speaking to strangers? For Jane (Yara Shahidi; Black-ish), it is a reality she lives with every day. That is until the day fate intervened and a friend's birthday suddenly planted an idea in Jane's best friend, Corrine's (Odessa A'zion; Hellraiser), head. Unfortunately, That isn't the only thing going on in Corrine's head. Based on true events, Sitting in Bars with Cake, takes audiences through a year in Jane's and Corrine's lives.
Jane and Corrine have been best friends since they were little and when Corrine moved to LA to become a PR Agent, Jane followed her. By day, Jane is the mailroom person at the PR Agency where Corrine also works. At night, she studies to take the bar exam to fulfill her parents' wishes while secretly spending her free time baking cakes. One Saturday night Jane bakes a cake for her friend's birthday and brings it to the bar where everyone is meeting. Noticing that she has suddenly become the center of attention, Jane begins dishing out cake and by the end of the night, she has spoken to practically every guy in the bar.
The next day, Corrine decides they are going to spend a year "cake barring" in hopes of finding Jane a boyfriend. Each week they hit another bar with a cake Jane has made. At first, things go according to plan but when Corrine becomes sick it not only changes the best friends' bar-hopping plans but alters the course of their lives forever. What starts out as a fun experiment becomes a cathartic exercise for dealing with life.
Author Audrey Shulman wrote the novel as a way to honor her lifelong friend Chrissy. Originally started as a blog, Audrey's writings (and baking) became a novel and now, thanks to Amazon Studios, a movie. While the concept, along with the title, seems silly at first, it becomes obvious by the second act, that there is so much more going on here. This isn't just a recipe for a cute idea or a fun movie but is a celebration of friendship that goes beyond casual camaraderie and delves into the idea of two people forming a familial bond.
Shahadi and A'zion are part of what makes this movie better than it should be. These actresses embody their characters and have such great presence and chemistry that they make the bond between Jane and Corrine realistic. Joining them is a trio of veteran actors who are perfectly cast. Ron Livingston (Office Space) and Martha Kelly (Marriage Story) play Corrine's parents and Corrine's boss is played ever so briefly but no less brilliantly than the incredible Bette Midler (Hocus Pocus). All three actors represent a different aspect of Corrine's life and each does a wonderful job of it.
Director Trish She (Pitch Perfect 3) utilizes her dance/choreography/music background to infuse the film with continual movement. This helps to push the plot along without stagnating or stalling. She has a sense of who these women are and she uses that to celebrate this story about love and friendship in a way that goes deeper than the surface façade.
I honestly don't know how a film manages to have a sad and happy ending all at the same time but it is a testament to the writer, director, and actors that Sitting in Bars With Cake manages to do just that. As life lessons go, this movie serves them up covered in frosting and reminds us all...there is always room for cake!