It’s surprising how quickly Sitting in Bars with Cake abandons the whimsy of that title and turns into something else entirely. Based on the autobiographical book of the same name by Audrey Shulman and directed by Trish Sie, the new Prime Video movie begins as an effortless romantic comedy circa 2006 might, but the end of act one brings a tonal shift so drastic that it can’t help but leave you scrambling to keep up. It’s like experiencing a sugar rush followed by a particularly heavy crash.
Not that the movie is unpleasant in any way; in fact, it’s actually quite easygoing. Many of its scenes are positively low-energy, considering the gravity of what is going on. But the movie’s understated approach to these situations is a part of its charm.Yara Shahidi plays Jane, a young woman in her mid-20s, working in the mailroom at a Los Angeles record label. Her best friend and roommate is Corinne, a more bohemian person on the up-and-up at the same company.
It’s Corinne who comes up with the frankly brilliant idea of Jane capitalising on her love for baking and taking luscious cakes with herself to bars with the express purpose of, as Jane puts it, ‘baiting boys with sugar’. With a bunch of their friends, Jane and Corinne devise an elaborate plan that involves a cork board and post-its, as if they’ve just been recruited to join Tyler Rake On an extraction mission. They bring the same intensity as Rake would to gunfights, as they come up with a list of 50 cakes for Jane to prepare for her nights out. These cakes will collectively serve as her personal Barney Stinson, beckoning men over in the most delicious manner imaginable and going, “Have you met Jane?”