The pitch meeting for Before We Go must have gone something like this: “It’s Before Sunrise! But in New York City! It’s even got a cute little scene where the guy and the girl make fake phone calls! And, heck, it’s got ‘Before’ right there in the title!”

But what the studio honchos apparently didn’t bother to do is actually, you know, read the script.

Starring Captain America himself, Chris Evans (who is also making his directorial debut), and Alice Eve (She’s Out of My League), Before We Go is so hung up on trying to be a self-contained, two-person show about a chance meet-cute and the subsequent night-long courtship that it forgets to do it smartly.

The screenplay is credited to no less than four different writers (which is, more often than not, a harbinger of doom), but one of them is Ronald Bass, who won the Oscar for Rain Man (which, you would think, bodes well). Alas, the “four screenwriters” side of that argument wins out.

Evans is Nick, a struggling trumpeter who trips on Brooke (Eve) late one night in Grand Central Station. She’s running to catch a train (it takes the better part of an hour for us to finally be told why), and when she misses it, Nick comes to her rescue. Thus, the long night of these two people learning about each other’s hopes and dreams and quirks begins.

To be fair, there’s plenty about Before We Go to actually like. Eve is especially great in her role, and Evans (though he occasionally drifts too far into goofy-ville) does some nice work, too. His work is even better as a director; he’s got a real talent for making an ordinary scene come alive– though some of the credit surely belongs with cinematographer John Gulesarian (About Time).

Due to its “nothing really happens” nature, so much of Before We Go relies on the dialogue, though, and that’s precisely why the whole thing just falls apart too easily. The script is full of enough “witty banter” that it eventually gets tiresome, and other chunks are simply too flowery; it’s almost as if Evans and Eve are awkwardly reciting song lyrics.

It’s a shame, really. If Evans hadn’t chosen something so derivative, he might have kicked off a halfway-decent career as a director, and Eve may have finally gotten some of the attention she richly deserves– but Before We Go will no doubt be forgotten before it even arrives. (It’s available on-demand now, with a limited release planned for September.

2.5/5 stars