In Two Night Stand, writer-director Max Nichols envisions a world where raising one’s self-esteem is just a click away. Unemployed, newly single, and disillusioned by a pre-med undergrad degree of little worth to her, Megan (Analeigh Tipton) decides to dive into the world of online dating via an OkCupid-like site to boost her morale. She takes her roommate’s advice and pursues a no-strings-attached one-night stand, picking the first guy, Alec (Miles Teller), who seems moderately clever and heads to his Bed-Stuy apartment. And while the experiment is seamlessly fulfilled, the morning after complicates matters: After trading barbs with Alec, Megan storms down the stairs of the building to discover that a massive blizzard has trapped her inside. The stage is thus set for two vulnerable twentysomethings to grow from passive-aggressive strangers to unwitting lovebirds within the space of an apartment and 36 hours.
Two Night Stand is an attempt at conveying a candid portrait of contemporary hookup culture and the dishonesty of online dating profiles, but the film’s sentiments are all past their expiration date. It treats online dating as the last taboo of our modern sexual era, as if wasn’t already widely accepted among the characters’ web-savvy generation. Worse, the screenplay is crammed with dialogue that strains, and fails, to be smart and referential: There’s a groan-worthy line about how far Brooklyn is from the East Village, and in one scene, Megan, annoyed at all that she’s lost, shouts, “I am going backward. I’m Benjamin Button-ing.” This is a film that overestimates the depth and charm of its characters, who spew undergrad-level life observations and insights about human behavior and sex. As certain truths come to light in the final act, the conflicts feel manufactured, and the characters themselves feel as hermetically sealed as the setting. They’re trapped within the film—ciphers for their respective genders without ever feeling like people that exist within reality.