Why I’d Swipe Right on O’Shea Jackson Jr. in Ingrid Goes West

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O’Shea Jackson Jr. in Ingrid Goes West. Photo: Neon

Be forewarned: You’ll leave Ingrid Goes West wanting to swipe right on O’Shea Jackson Jr.’s Dan Pinto. Or at least I did. As a single woman living in New York City, where too many single guys think Williamsburg is adventurous, I firmly believe that Dan — Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza’s) Batman-loving landlord turned love interest — represents the platonic ideal of both a cinematic and actual boyfriend. Dan is charismatic, chill — he vapes! — and lovable, the type of guy you can’t wait to introduce to all your friends so that they can all vape with him. It helps, too, that Jackson delivers a warm, funny performance that takes Dan far beyond the stereotypical boneheaded boyfriend of romantic dramedies past. Here’s why I would literally date Dan, even though he is a fictional character who, fictionally, lives across the country. It’s fine.

1. He’s a nice guy — and not a boring nice guy.
Jackson imbues Dan with a deep authenticity, presenting him first as skeptical of Ingrid’s bullshit, then irrepressibly lovable once he accepts and becomes endeared by said bullshit. He’s a regula degula dude in L.A. who’s disinterested in her obsession with high follow counts and trending topics, but into her just the same. Which is why it’s extremely maddening to watch Ingrid so easily distracted by the luster of Elizabeth Olsen’s phony lifestyle — masking a secretly troubled marriage and an empty, talentless clique — while Dan’s genuineness goes unappreciated. I would be a better girlfriend, given that I like neither avocado toast nor use of #squadgoals.

2. He likes Batman.
One of Dan’s key characteristics is that he’s almost unhealthily obsessed with the Caped Crusader, writing screenplays about Batman and rocking out to the Batman Forever soundtrack in his truck. Jackson happens to share that obsession, which is probably why the whole thing reads as ridiculously charming. As director Matt Spicer told Vulture, after Plaza DM’ed Jackson to see if he’d be down to play Dan, he texted her, “Hey, it’s Batman,” which Plaza took as confirmation of his involvement. But during their IRL meeting a few days later, Jackson told Plaza she’d never actually sent him the script.

“It was this weird, confusing back and forth,” Spicer said, “until finally she realized that he just really loves Batman. So it’s this weird coincidence — he refers to himself as Batman [in real life]. That Arkham Asylum line [in the car scene] was completely off the cuff. I wish I could take credit for it.”

Now I’m confused. Do I want to date O’Shea Jackson Jr. or Dan Pinto? Do I like Batman? Well, I like Ben Affleck, and I liked that scene in Dark Knight Rises when Anne Hathaway says “Oops,” so … yes, I too like Batman. More importantly: I like when guys read things other than the Ringer and The Art of Fielding!

3. He’s not a fuckboy.
With #LawrenceHive — the misguided folks excusing the Insecure character’s fuckboy behavior — creeping onto my Twitter feed, isn’t it nice to meet a guy (… via a movie) who wouldn’t dream of behaving like selfish-ass Lawrence? Ingrid puts Dan through hell in this movie — she’s the only fuckboy I see. She’s maniacal in the way she tries to contort Dan’s life, using his natural charisma in order to appeal to her hashtag-obsessed friends. But he likes her, so he stays around. Jackson plays Dan’s conflicted frustration perfectly — he’s fatigued by her efforts more than he is frustrated. And even after Ingrid pushes him away, he’s a hero when she buckles under the weight of her own impossible charade.

Okay. Is it Jackson that I’m into? Or Dan? Can I have both, for 300, Alex?

4. He’s unpretentious.
Maybe the closest I’ll get to being a basketball wife is being with someone who wears a Lakers jersey. That’s my cross to bear. But if it’s Dan Pinto, I’ll deal with it. I’m done with swiping through guys who look like they’re dressing for an audition to sit next to Justin Bieber at Hillsong. Enough! Dan isn’t too precious about what’s he’s wearing, which is part of his appeal in a movie so obsessed with self-image.

5. Yeah, duh, he’s also super hot.
Should we start with the smile — is that appropriate? Let’s start with the smile: It’s almost like O’Shea Jackson Jr.’s teeth were placed in a divine alignment, and Dan Pinto deploys that grin at full wattage. Dan has full lips. He’s dreamy, but not that hazy-fragrance-commercial, tinged-with-millennial-pink way: He is, in Jackson’s own estimation, Black Pitt. You’ll get our save the date via iCal soon.

I’d Swipe Right on O’Shea Jackson Jr. in Ingrid Goes West