[Review] [Tribeca Film Festival] Cha Cha Real Smooth: Dakota Johnson and Cooper Raiff Show There Is Nothing Smooth About Growing Up

Photo: Apple TV+

Cha Cha Real Smooth, the indie movie that has been making the round at film festivals, first Sundance and now Tribeca Film Festival, has found a home on Apple TV+.

Written, directed, produced, co-edited, and starring Cooper Raif, Raif plays recent college graduate Andrew who has high hopes to work at a nonprofit but is currently working at Meat Stick after moving back home and sleeping on his little brother’s bedroom floor. Andrew wears his heart on his sleeve and is earnest. Pair this with him being a hopeless romantic, Andrew gets his heart broken often. At age 12, he falls in love with the older “designated party starter” at a bar mitzvah and even asks her out, but is disappointed when she turns him down due to their age difference. He doesn’t outgrow his love for older women. Ten years later he falls for Domino (Dakota Johnson) the mother of Lola, a classmate of Andrew’s brother, who is autistic. They begin a friendship after he is able to get Lola to dance at a bat mitzvah.

Set at different bat and bar mitzvahs, we see Domino, Andrew, and Lola’s relationship further develop while he now works as a designated party starter. Although all of his brother’s friends are religiously coming into adulthood, we see Andrew come of age himself by learning to enjoy the moment and focus on himself.

The movie is very engaging and the backdrop of different bat and bar mitzvahs and their various themes (including under the sea and soccer) is a great juxtaposition to see Andrew grow up himself. The real stand-out performance is Vanessa Burghardt (Lola). Lola is part of the growing change that is long overdue: showing differently-abled people are multi-layered characters.

Cha Cha Real Smooth is playing at Tribeca at Home starting June 14th at 6pm and streaming on Apple TV+ on June 17th.