Based on a true story, Cafe Society stars Big Boy lookalike Frank Whaley as a hedonistic, self-destructive playboy with an unfortunate penchant for marrying women who turn out to be prostitutes—including his latest flame, social-climbing woman-of-the-night Lara Flynn Boyle. This brings him to the attention of the publicity-hungry New York Police Department, which assigns a straight-shooting undercover agent (Peter Gallagher) to infiltrate Whaley's plush social circles and set him up as a fall guy. While Cafe Society's opening scenes do a decent job recreating the playgrounds of the idle rich in the '50s, the film deteriorates quickly, due in no small part to the miscasting of the three leads. Whaley tries hard in the lead role, but his character is wildly inconsistent, transforming from a sweet-hearted Romeo to a bitch-slapping uber-pimp seemingly overnight. Gallagher's character is equally implausible, as the wooden actor is convincing as neither a straight-laced cop nor the decadent playboy he goes undercover to portray. The bony, wholesome, mousy Boyle is similarly miscast as Cafe Society's requisite femme fatale. The film also suffers from a derivative, predictable plot and a slew of self-conscious, not especially effective stylistic devices—particularly the familiar period-film gambit of having a Greek chorus of gossip columnists comment on Whaley's sad decline, as well as several minutes of shaky party footage courtesy of Whaley's camera-crazed voyeur. Cafe Society is a misfire, a film that promises a stylishly fatalistic glimpse of a lost way of life, and ends up delivering something closer in spirit to an elaborate early-'50s theme party, complete with cocktails, party favors, and lounge music.