Get local news delivered straight to your phone

We can't make City Paper without you

$
$
$

Your contribution is appreciated.

Plenty of male pop stars suffer from Mick Jagger syndrome: If not for their musical talent and cool-as-hell stage presence, there’s no way they’d be getting girls. So the young fans of ‘N Sync might want to avoid seeing On the Line, which strips Lance Bass and Joey Fatone of their studio overdubs, glittery costumes, and synchronized dance moves and thrusts them naked into everyday life. Ladies, it ain’t pretty. Bass plays Kevin, an improbable ad exec whose biggest fault is his inability to seal the deal when it comes to love. One day, a cute stranger (Emmanuelle Chriqui) strikes up a conversation with him on the train; they hit it off, and he lets her walk away. The rest of the movie deals with his citywide campaign to find her—can you say Serendipity?—which all of Chicago soon becomes involved in as a local paper tracks Kevin’s progress. His sidekicks include Fatone as Rod, the puffy, flatulent, untalented frontman of the band he and Kevin started in high school, and a couple of other loser friends who try to score with the dozens of comely lasses who respond to Kevin’s are-you-her? flier. Bass, whose appeal escapes me, can’t help but come off as the most likable of this irritating-fratboy crew and is serviceable as the vanilla Kevin. (In an interview, Bass admits that Kevin “wasn’t too complex of a character to handle.”) And Fatone is clearly unafraid to be the best schlub he can be: Rod is obviously no ladies’ man, and Fatone seems to relish letting it all hang out for a change. Also seen in supporting roles are Jerry Stiller, reduced to yet another embarrassing curmudgeon-who’s-falling-apart bit, and Dave Foley, who’s never been less funny than as Kevin’s stiff, occasionally Phil Hartman-accented boss. The only laugh comes during the closing credits, when Justin Timberlake guises himself as Bass’ flamboyant hairdresser and claims that the movie “‘N stinks,” recycling Ben Stiller’s halftime-show-choreographer joke from this year’s Super Bowl. With nothing worth watching except Chriqui’s great hair, even the most die-hard fans should save themselves On the Line’s predictable trip. —Tricia Olszewski