I read in the paper (yes, a newspaper made of newsprint that was dropped onto my doorstep at four a.m.) that Hollywood’s pumping out the downers in droves, and people are avoiding the box office in similar numbers.

The economy takes the blame, of course. But it’s not that people who have seen their net worth plummet can’t afford a night at the multiplex. It’s that they don’t get a lift out of seeing other people suffering even more than they are.

“There’s a lot of strife in the world, and maybe people don’t want strife in the cinema right now,” Mark Romanek, who directed Never Let Me Go, told the L.A. Times.

On the other hand, you apparently have to be careful not to let your characters be too happy when spending their money. Rotten Tomatoes quotes one reviewer of Sex and the City 2 as saying, “It’s a fairy-tale about fashion, jewelry, gowns, Maybach automobiles, private jets, Rolex watches, style, sophistication, and glamour, and I couldn’t wait for it to end.”

The economy is bad news. But I see these two comments as good news for Fast Lane.

First, it’s no downer. It’s a romantic comedy. Love and funny are in vogue no matter what the economy’s up to.

Second, while one of the main characters–Clay–is rich, the other—Lara—is not. And infiltrating Clay’s world is, for Lara, a path to a big payday that promises to make all her financial hurt go away.

But because of that romantic part of the equation, I don’t think I’m giving up any spoilers here to say that in the end, it may not be all about the benjamins.

Sure, mentions are made of Egyptian cotton shirts, the Lexus LFA supercar, Cynar liqueur and pricey designer swimsuits, but it’s pretty clear that something’s missing from Clay’s life in spite of all the coin at his command.

As for Lara…not being rich is pretty much where most of us stand most of the time. But, of course, most of us also know there’s a line we won’t cross even though doing so promises to significantly beef up our bank accounts.

Lara finds herself standing toes-to-the-line and asking, “What do I do now?”

That’s where fantasy plows into reality, where romance runs up against reason and, I hope, where readers will find their reward

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