Shanghai Calling

Shanghai is like a beautiful woman. Shanghai and construction go hand in hand. Shanghai is the new land of opportunity. Shanghai isn’t a hardship post for outcasts anymore; it’s a gold star on your resume and it’s attracting the best and brightest these days. Shanghai is a city that is always changing; why should the people who come to Shanghai be any different? These are all things people actually say in writer-director Daniel Hsia’s feature debut, whose lasting impression is the sense of its maker having studied several of the most disposable American romantic comedies, from thousands of miles away, possibly under extreme duress from the Shanghai tourism bureau. Daniel Henney plays a young careerist corporate lawyer of Chinese ancestry whose New York firm imposes a stint in said opportunity-land, where he acclimates with equal parts assistance and resistance from a leggy blonde relocation specialist played by Eliza Coupe. She’s as sassy as he is smug, and they do look good together in the glowing city night. The rest is a swirl of limp, conveniently turned subplots, in which other Americans include, oddly, Alan Ruck and Bill Paxton. But it’s all agreeable enough, and handsomely shot, with the occasional peppy animated interlude. And have we mentioned the many splendors of Shanghai?