The Rewrite

2015-05-29 09:14

What it's about:

With his career in the dumps, Keith Michaels, a once celebrated Hollywood screenwriter, heads off to be the lecturer of a screenwriting course at an East Coast college.

What we thought:

There is nothing at all surprising or remarkable about the Rewrite and there's definitely something ironic about a movie with this unoriginal a script set around a screenwriting course. And yet, there is something oddly comforting about just how familiar it all is.

At the heart of all this, of course, is Hugh Grant who is on full-on bumbling, foppish cad mode and though this is nothing we haven't seen a thousand times before, to me at least, he's as endearing and as funny as ever. If you don't like Hugh Grant, you need to stay as far away from this as possible but if you liked him in Four Weddings and a Funeral and any one of the dozen-or-so identical roles in the past, I can't see any reason why you wouldn't like him here. Grant doesn't make many films these days so it's hardly like his performance feels stale. Safe, certainly, but it feels, if not fresh, then at least soothingly familiar.

And that soothing familiarity carries through to all of Hugh Grant's many excellent co-stars. Marisa Tomei plays a loveable single mother, Alison Janney is cuttingly funny as the college's head of department and even J.K Simmons slides effortlessly into a role that is the polar opposite of his breathtaking and awards-winning work in Whiplash. Nothing new to see here but plenty to laugh at (or with, really) and even more to love.

The film is written and directed by Marc Lawrence who has worked thrice before with Hugh Grant, (Music and Lyrics, Two Weeks Notice and the reviled Did You Hear About the Morgans) and he is clearly a master at flimsy Hollywood comedy. Starting off with the squeaky clean Family Ties (remember that show?) and moving onto lightweight fluff like Miss Congeniality and the Out-of-Towners, Lawrence has made a non-particularly-prolific career out of gentle but easily forgettable light comedy.

The only real difference this time is that, though the Rewrite is no more memorable than anything else he's made, it's a good deal funnier and sharper than many of Lawrence's past films. The cast is obviously a huge help here, as it is made up of great actors who also happen to be in possession of really exquisite comic timing, but credit where credit's due: both his direction and his scripting help to sculpt a really solidly funny and effortlessly breezy romantic comedy that is very, very hard to dislike. And considering the caliber of so many of the comedies in recent months, this is nothing to sneeze at.

At 107 minutes, it is perhaps ten minutes too long, but that's hardly a deal breaker, and if the more dramatic moments don't entirely stand up to the far more assured comic and romantic aspects of the film, they are at least passable, thanks in no small part to a typically sympathetic and soulful turn from Marisa Tomei. Yes, the sheer laziness of the plotting – a reluctant teacher forms an indelible bond with his misfit (though largely in this case, intentionally hot female) students who teach him as much about life as he teaches them – is perhaps a bit distracting but, again, as the plot is really little more than something on which to hang some good gags, fun characters and great, relaxed performances, it's hard to complain too much.

Though, really, that kind of sums up the film itself. There's really nothing special about it and it has loads wrong with it on an “objective” technical level, but it's just so hard not to like. Well, unless you're a Hugh Grant hater, at least. In that case, I would imagine you'd finds loads to complain about. For everyone else though, this is a charming and utterly forgettable trifle of a move that should be the perfect tonic to a hard day or long week at work.

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