It’s a tale as old as the existence of celebrity: a famous person (or waning famous person, in this case) falling in love with a commoner. From The Bodyguard to Notting Hill, the struggle of a star dating someone “beneath her” is rife with just the sort of drama fit for a sellable screenplay.
Such is the case with Amos Posner’s debut feature, B-Side, a story that blends the best elements of music and romance. Opening with a nervous magazine writer waiting in the hotel lobby to interview pop star April Simon (Jennifer Damiano), who has lost a great deal of her self-confidence in the wake of slumping album and tour ticket sales, we see that she still has some clout with those who appreciate the sanctity of pop royalty.
Soon after we’re introduced to radio DJ Mike Zumsteg (Ryan Eggold), who has hosted his show from around the time he was in high school with his two best friends, Jonas (Tobias Segal) and Ray (Ryan Metcalf). As one of the last of a dying breed in New York City–the respected radio show host–he is not surprised that his audience consists of about ten listeners, one of them being, to his chagrin, April Simon. He discovers this fact after making fun of her on a segment of the show he does with Jonas called Force Jonas to Learn Something Instead of Eat, Bathe or Study for Grad School Derby. The subject Jonas must answer questions on is April Simon, leading Mike to comment quite negatively on her persona, like when one listener asks which show April guest starred on in 2005 and Jonas answers, “Joey,” to which Mike, replies, “So it’s a cheap knockoff starring on a cheap knockoff, both of which stayed around way longer than any of them wanted to.” This comment riles April enough for her to send an image to him with a sign that says “Go to hell.” Mike apologizes by sending her a series of photos of him in various pretend torture poses he calls “The Many Apology Deaths of Mike Zumsteg.” To his shock, this prompts her to ask him out.
Upon meeting, the two strike up an instant rapport based on a slightly snarky repartee and an understanding that they’ve both somewhat passed their primes in their careers. April begins to feel like she might be better off slowing down and settling in New York to be closer not just to Mike, but to her sister as well. Everything seems to be going along smoothly–they’re both so in sync (pardon the faint pop star reference)–but when April sees signs of her tour gathering steam, she considers continuing with her career rather than staying in one place with Mike.
Bearing many resemblances to the once highly in demand Britney Spears, April Simon (who even looks a bit like Britney and is also supposed to hail from the south) seems to let everyone else dictate the path of her life rather than make decisions for herself. Because she’s been in commercials/singing since she was fifteen as a result of her mother sending her on auditions after she wouldn’t stop singing Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven Is A Place on Earth” one week, she finds it difficult to let go of the only thing she’s ever known. Likewise, Mike feels the same way about his radio show, and a shut down date that looms ever closer.
The connection they share, just like in so many other movies that center on a relationship fortified by a love of music (e.g. Begin Again and Music and Lyrics), is, ultimately, unbreakable–even in spite all of their many differences–especially with regard to song preference. And while B-Side may not be an original story, it is told in an original and engaging way.