‘In a Relationship’: Two Couples at Opposite Stages of Love

Posted November 8, 2018 8:03 p.m. EST

Unspooling over one languid summer, Sam Boyd’s laid-back, loose-limbed debut feature, “In a Relationship,” wins no prizes for originality. Unadventurous to the point of humdrum, the story monitors the dating travails of two young Los Angeles couples with little to engage them except sex and socializing.

At least the sex is safe, though no thanks to the men. Quarreling and mating in almost equal amounts, Hallie (Emma Roberts) and the commitment-phobic Owen (Michael Angarano) enjoy each other’s company but hardly seem a match made in heaven. After several years together, she would like to cohabit; he’d prefer to drift and dream. His goofily immature best friend, Matt (Patrick Gibson), though, has fallen hard for Hallie’s ultrahot cousin, Willa (Dree Hemingway). Considering he’s still living at home and sleeping in his little-boy bed, his chances of Willa’s reciprocation seem slim.

A low-concept, low-bar romantic comedy whose conundrums are as familiar as love itself, “In a Relationship” has a smudged tenderness and almost nostalgic sweetness, as if we’re watching these characters painfully learn everything that we already know. Their vague gestures toward employment — dabbling in photography, editing bar mitzvah videos — lend the movie a relaxed aimlessness that takes sexual experimentation and emotional timeouts in stride.

Expanding ideas and characters explored in his short 2015 mockumentary of the same name, Boyd creates a soft-serve millennial world of Ubers and pool parties and ill-advised cellphone snooping. The upshot is a gentle, gossamer movie that, like its soundtrack, goes down easy and is almost instantly forgotten.

“In a Relationship” is not rated. Running time: 1 hour 32 minutes.