Dakota Johnson, together with her sun-dazed smile and cautious doe-eyed glow (the look of an harmless who is aware of methods to thread her method by way of a world of predators), is usually a winsomely interesting performer, however what’s she doing in “The Excessive Observe” taking part in Maggie, the private assistant to an imperious pop-star diva? It’s the type of job that might toughen up anybody who’s had it for per week. However Maggie, after three years of working for Grace Davis, a high-maintenance famous person from the ’90s performed by Tracee Ellis Ross, nonetheless looks like a university scholar who gained an internship. She’s candy, naive, and docile, even when the place requires her to be demanding. She comes off extra like an assistant to the assistant.
Maggie lives in gobsmacked awe of Grace, who performs in sold-out arenas all around the world, regardless that she hasn’t put out a brand new album in a decade. Ross, in her first film position since “Black-ish” premiered six years in the past, is taking part in a music legend who appears a synthesis of Alicia Keys and Madonna (even when her look and bearing counsel Robin Roberts crossed with Lani Guinier), and she or he makes her a formidable determine. She bites down into Grace’s effrontery, turning her right into a regal however troubled energy dealer who controls her personal future, at the same time as she’s surrounded by cynics and vipers, like her supervisor, Jack (Ice Dice), who’s all in regards to the Benjamins, or the unctuous millennial fits at her document label.
Maggie is the mushy eye on the middle of the storm — the sane one, the good one, wafting by way of the shark-tank music business on a blanket of fine vibes. She nonetheless has a roommate (performed by the sharp-tongued Zoë Chao); she has a puritan disdain for L.A. pool events (and she or he’s a pop star’s assistant?). Her dream is to be a document producer, and to that finish she has assembled her personal secret reduce of Grace’s new reside album. However the script of “The Excessive Observe,” by Flora Greeson, is lengthy on wish-fulfillment and quick on inside authority, and the director, Nisha Ganatra (“Late Evening”), phases it with a hit-or-miss geniality that retains chopping corners on the story’s emotional honesty. The texture-good issue hovers over this film like a fuzzy bland cloud.
At a hip grocery retailer, Maggie meets David (Kelvin Harrison Jr., from “Waves”), a good-looking singer-songwriter with a rockin’ MOR vibe, and the 2 have a “Excessive Constancy” music-geek convo that dances on the sting of cringey-ness. She doesn’t like “Lodge California” (“The Eagles are hokey, and Don Henley is a really imply man…it’s just like the ‘Brown-Eyed Woman’ of Southern California mushy rock”), and he doesn’t know who Sam Cooke is — or a minimum of he pretends to not, till she catches him crooning “You Ship Me” within the grocery car parking zone, at which level Sam Cooke takes over because the movie’s Signifier Of Musical Integrity.
Will Grace signal on for a Vegas residency, with Caesars Palace dangling a deal in entrance of her? There may be a lot Sturm und Drang over this, although provided that Grace has been a nostalgia act for years, the place’s the drama (or plausibility) in her hemming and hawing? As for Maggie, does she have what it takes to go from wannabe to document producer? If her transformation of David from zero to musical hero is any proof, she actually does, however simply once you’re certain this tinsel fairy story can’t get any extra glittery, there’s a last-act twist that can depart you going “No, they didn’t!” Sure, they did.