A run-of-the-mill romantic comedy filled with unrequited love, unfulfilled lust and inflatable dolls.
When computer-hacker-turned-valet Rollo Hemphill asks Felicia, the love/obsession of his life, to tie the knot, she (justifiably) feels that the aimless Rollo has little to offer, and so turns him down. The despondent Rollo and his sidekick, Hector Gomez-Ibarra, conclude that the only way Rollo will win Felicia’s heart is to make her jealous. To that end, Rollo procures an inflatable doll, fashions it in the image of bombshell actress Monica LaMonica, drives it around the city and, soon enough, he’s the talk of the town. Several mistaken identities, meetings with the press and encounters with FBI Agent Arlen Pugsley ensue, and Rollo reaches some conclusions that push him just slightly in the direction of adulthood. The author touts his debut novel as a reverse-gender chick-lit parody–he calls it â€œboychik lit”–but it’s more farce than lampoon. Jones straddles the line between outright drawing-room silliness and romantic comedy, not quite reaching the resonant level of gross-out comedy achieved by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, or the Farrelly Brothers. Rollo’s clueless objectification of women comes off as oddly cute rather than shocking (â€œFelicia’s back was toward me, and her micro-mini had hiked up so the plump bottoms of her sweet cheeks peeked out, separated by small wedge of hot-pink undies with lace trim. . . . [I was] thinking about kissing the moist lips under the pink wedgie”). If the author had made a stronger commitment to his protagonist’s persona–is he Dean Martin or Jerry Lewis, a goofy leading man or a full-blown goofball?–this novel might have risen above the level of mildly amusing. As it is, My Inflatable Friend is a simplistic piece of fluff that may be briefly enjoyed, but then quickly forgotten.
You may root for the charmingly dense Rollo, but you won’t remember why.