Chris Evans gets sappy in disappointing directorial debut ‘Before We Go’

Chris Evans makes his directorial debut with this Manhattan romance, which struggles to stay afloat on the considerable charm of its stars — Evans and Alice Eve — but is sunk by too much schmaltz (even for the Lower East Side).

Nick (Evans) is a trumpet player busking in Grand Central; Eve is Brooke, a frazzled Bostonian who’s missed her late-night train and had her purse stolen, to boot. Returning her dropped cellphone, he offers to help her get home.

A series of misadventures follows, with the duo swapping life stories in bits and pieces. She’s got a husband who doesn’t know she’s in New York; he’s in town to audition for a jazz great and, hopefully, see an ex he’s not over.

“Before We Go” is best when it lets Evans and Eve banter on stoops, but the screenplay, by Ron Bass and Jen Smolka, is heavy on clichéd set pieces. An impromptu duet in a bar to earn some cash. A visit to a wise old psychic behind a tacky window display. Evans shoots the city with some genuine warmth and grit, but returns too often to lingering close-ups of Nick and Brooke looking star-crossed.

I’m also a little disappointed Evans (a Boston native) didn’t do his due diligence on the script, which has Nick telling Brooke she can get a Chinatown bus home for “only $80.” I imagine it’s been a while since you’ve had to take one, man, but that’s a $16 ticket.

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