Thursday, April 30, 2015

3 Short Paragraphs: The Rewrite

2014, Marc Lawrence (Two Weeks Notice) -- download

It must be very odd to be a movie writer who writes with an actor in mind. Lawrence has written four movies with Hugh Grant. I get it, you get a picture of your main character in your head, having worked with them before and just want to run with it. But what if the mains are not on the same page as you? I don't think Sandra Bullock, who has also led four of Lawrence's movies, would have liked his one, as it small movie without much oomph. Meanwhile I imagine Hugh Grant is fine, as long as its a Hugh Grant role. You know the ones, where he is a snarky, self-aggrandizing but slightly befuddled man who usually charms his way out of a predicament. This role allows him to maintain his essential character, even as he ages.

P.S. Marisa Tomei seems quite happy doing small roles in small movies and I applaud her for them, for more often than not, they are great roles. And an actor has to work, right?

So, Hugh Grant playing Hugh Grant, this time as a writer who had one great screenplay and has since been living off its fame. His agent sends him to be the teacher of a screenwriting course in a small college, just to make ends meet, while he writes his next best thing. He hates the idea. Of course he does, exchanging LA for upstate NY sounds like a bad idea. That is the premise, and the expected turnabout, where he learns to love the small college, town and its quirky people hits all the expected notes. But its a charming formula that works.

The thing is that there is an underlying laziness to the writing, which weirdly mirrors Grant's character. There are numerous women in the movie, as Grant makes sure his class is dominated by cute young things, but very few have much of a role. They all seem to exist to be the sounding board for his charming barbs. Even Marisa Tomei, who is expected to be the love interest, given time, is thinly sketched playing her usual single mom with lots of pluck. Maybe if Bullock had actually come along for this one, we would have had more of a developed main character. Alas, we had lackadaisical charm, not quite up to the sweet status, and a chuckle worthy romantic comedy. It will be great Netflix fodder.

P.S. I had to chose this poster because all the others were in this "too many teeth" smiley creepy stage.