SXSW 2000 Film Festival and Conference
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT YOUDir: Jeff Stolhand; Tony Hewett; Co-Prod: Merle Bertrand; Jimmy Jongebloed; DP: William Ambrico; Music: Karen Jacobs; Cast: Marie Black, Ryan Wickerham, Cameron Johnson.
16mm, 90 min., 1999
Well-meaning but ultimately disappointing, What I Like About You is a film that comes unglued because too many elements seem at odds with each other. Part slapstick comedy, part romance, and part drama, What I Like About You works best when it sticks to the more nuanced elements of dating and love. Filmed in Austin by a cast and crew of locals, the film centers on a sweet-but-snobby bookstore owner named Ollie (Marie Black) who ends up disengaged with her fiancé when he decides to sell her pride and joy to a mini-mall contractor. In the process, Ollie falls for an immature disc jockey named Adam (Ryan Wickerham) who is far removed from her world of Oscar Wilde and Jane Austen. The performances -- by Black, Wickerham, and Cameron Johnson as Ollie's gay best friend -- are what makes What I Like About You enjoyable. The actors are all charismatic and turn in likable, dedicated performances. Though at times it feels more like a series of misplaced comic routines and less like a linear narrative, What I Like About You features several inventive, charming dream sequences that play upon the film's stronger elements of characterization and acting.