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Writer Audrey Shulman actually tried this weird experiment. For a year she took home-baked cakes to bars, as a way to meet men, and maybe snag a boyfriend. She turned the experience into a blog, followed by a book, Sitting In Bars With Cake, which has now been turned into a movie (on Amazon Prime Video), scripted by her and directed by Trish Sie.
It could have made for a really amusing romcom, but it turns out to be a weepie about true friendship. That is a bit like raining on a picnic, but it’s a true story, so there’s no arguing with it.
Shulman’s alter ego in the film is Jane (Yara Shahidi), who is a nerdy mail room worker in a Los Angeles talent agency, where her best friend and flatmate, Corinne (Odessa A’Zion) is a junior manager. Jane’s parents are high-flying lawyers who want her to go to law school too, but she is crazy about baking. While Corinne is a cheerful extrovert, Jane leaves parties early to study, and takes breaks only to bake. She dresses in frumpy clothes –“If it works for Mr. Rogers, it works for me” being her argument– and in showbiz city full of gorgeous and available singles, cannot land herself a date.
When a cake baked for Corinne’s birthday party in a bar turns out to be a dude-magnet, she comes up with the idea for Jane to bake one every week and take it to bars all over LA, targeting the widest male demographic. A map with red string and thumb tacks connecting the targeted spots is duly put up and post-its with the result (dick pick, kiss, etc.) are stuck there too. The hope is that by the end of the year, Jane will have found a perfect match. Or at the very least, shed her shyness.
Things do not go according to plan, however. Corinne is felled by a brain tumour, and Jane willingly takes on the role of caregiver. Corinne’s parents arrive to look after her and take her home, but she does not want to move back with them. Jane, puts aside her own goals and her budding romance with co-worker Owen (Rish Shah) to concentrate on Corinne’s need, as her condition worsens.
This kind of devoted friend is hard to find– Jane follows childhood pal Corinne to LA, even though it’s not her kind of place, fades into the background as her BFF shines. The humour that the film begins with, shifts into pathos, as every character– including bitchy boss Benita (Bette Midler) stands by the dying Corinne.
It is worth a watch, because of the lovely cast, the magical city and, of course, the droolworthy cakes that would make anyone want to give up their no-sugar, no carbs, no-gluten, no-diary diet.
Sitting In Bars With Cake
Directed by Trish Sie
Cast: Yara Shahidi, Odessa A’Zion, Bette Midler and others
On Amazon Prime Video