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Yes No Maybe So: "The Rewrite"

Hugh Grant returns to the romantic comedy genre in "The Rewrite". Here's Matthew Eng to break it down for us in our Yes No Maybe So way


• Marisa Tomei
Marisa Tomei
Marisa Tomei
• Let me say it again. Marisa. Tomei. I’ll take her wherever I can get her, and I’d watch The Rewrite if only as a dolled-up delivery system for the most undervalued Oscar-winning actress working today. Why active, actress-friendly directors like David O. Russell and Woody Allen have yet to scoop her up and make a comedic muse out of her is totally beyond comprehension. She’s moving, miffed, and magnificent in Love is Strange, giving a pitch-perfect supporting performance, in the purest sense of the term. And she seems to be serving up her usual best here (i.e. rich, relaxed, and revealing character work) and top-lining (!) the damn thing as Hugh Grant’s older screenwriting pupil/inevitable love interest and she also seems to have a scene where she adorably re-creates the “Born to Hand Jive” scene from Grease with two little girls, and so for that and for My Marisa, I’ll be there.

more and the trailer itself after the jump...

• And hey, there’s Allison Janney doing her great stern-and-staunch authority figure thing! She’s never not a welcome presence, and between this and that Emmy-flaunting Mom and Masters revival, it’s nice to know she’s still being appreciated (and employed).
• J.K. Simmons, probably Allison Janney’s male equivalent, is here too, seven years after making such a casually charming pair with Janney in Juno? Sure, why not!
• That early October release date signals a movie that by all rights should be a calm, comforting breather before heavier Oscar fare comes racing through theaters.

• “Blunt, piggish, past-his-peak cad with lagging career and gross chauvinistic streak (“I’m just a little tired of female empowerment”) debases himself by entering new field and new community with low expectations, meets Great Gal (in this case a “smart, funny woman full of fire and honesty”), and must prove/redeem himself and overcome “spiritual vacancy” in order to Win her” isn’t exactly the freshest start.
• I enjoyed the hell out of Two Weeks Notice and Music and Lyrics just as much as anyone possibly could, even though the former pivots around a catfight between two grown women in their place of work and I might not totally remember any actual scenes from the latter in the slightest. That being said, writer-helmer and frequent Grant-collaborator Marc Did You Hear About the Morgans? Lawrence is hardly a director worth getting out of bed over, so the draw here was always bound to be actor-driven.
• That dizzy, celeb-obsessed ditz (“MATT DAMON?! OHHHMYGOD!”) could very easily wear out her welcome in a couple of scenes, yeah?
• The reviews for this could definitely be anywhere between ho-hum and hideous, and besides, isn’t this the sort of movie you wait until the HBO premiere to actually watch, rather than spending $14 bucks on? 

• Hugh Grant’s had such glorious, surprising chemistry with a whole bunch of romcom royalty (Julia, Sandra, Drew) and even survived Andie MacDowell in Four Weddings and a Funeral. I admire his pretty wily willingness to play up this over-the-hill moment of his career, to the extent that they’ve even re-purposed some old, affable, floppy-haired Golden Globes acceptance speech in this. He alone isn’t reason enough for me to see anything, though, and this looks like the exact opposite of the type of “stretching” that an actor should probably be undertaking within the third decade of his celebrity (not to mention the fourth of his career). But Grant is more often than not a diverting and appealingly self-deprecating performer, who I never begrudge seeing on screen.
• Screenwriting’s such a routinely bastardized form, and thus so ripe for parody, that this could be an interesting conceit. Or it could just be whatever untapped profession was picked out of a hat.
• Marisa’s a magician with even the slimmest notion of a character (see, most recently, Crazy, Stupid, Love) but this genre’s track record for female love interests speaks for itself. I’m hoping this role isn’t as badly underwritten as it very well could be, but then again, I wouldn’t be too surprised.
• Is Caroline Aaron always the male protagonist’s straight-talking agent, manager, or mother in these movies, or does it just feel that way?

Right now, I’m an on-the-fence Maybe So, whose Marisa Tomei loyalties are pushing him more and more towards a reluctant but extremely possible Yes.

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Reader Comments (13)

You are crazy. This is a 100% No - never - not even on HBO.

August 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnonny

I'm in the Maybe so camp, because I have a real soft spot for Hugh Grant. He was so good in "About a Boy" and was fun to watch him in "Music & Lyrics". But if the script as bad as "Did you Hear About the Morgans" then I will have to pass.
Allison Janney and J.K. Simmons are always good value, so I remain hopeful.
What I really want is for Hugh Grant to be teamed up with Emma Thompson and Kristin Scott Thomas in a well written, witty script.

August 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

Yes: Hugh, Marissa, Janney, Simmons and Aaron (this woman worked for years as a day player in NYC and was always terrific in every part she played). Plus, age appropriate characters falling for each other. This could so easily have been Grant and some barely legal supermodel (or equivalent). Someday the children who read this blog will appreciate that sentiment.

No: Ah....romcom.....No. No. No. Too cute romcom....Kill me now.

Maybe so: What little we saw of the script looked good, but it could have been cherry picked. Grant has played versions of this since forever (most famously, Four Weddings....) but there is comfort in that......if it is good. If it is bad (and I will again trust certain reviewers), I will avoid it so as not to tarnish my memories of Hugh (and the rest of the cast) at his (their) best.

I'm a No until I get more information.

August 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

Damn straight about Marisa Tomei. She is everything in everything, and although I'm only a maybe (due to genre discomfort), I hope it's the giant hit that she deserves.

August 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

anonny -- have you no affection for any of the actors?

Henry -- i agre that its refreshign that it appears that Grant will fall for Tomei in the film. since they are only 4 years apart in age.

mike -- right? i would so love for her to have a resurgence. she's so good in everything. and just as good on stage, too!

September 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I pray each night for the revival of the rom-com as an enjoyable genre. I'll try anything. Msybe So leaning towards Yes.

September 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah Lipp

Deborah -- may your prayers be answered. I like Hugh Grant - particularly within this genre because no other leading man in my lifetime was better at this genre -- so i'm hoping this is really good. I don't think the trailer can tell us because romantic comedies depend heavily on things like sustained ebullience and transporting star-to-star chemistry and it's hard to get either of those things across in a trailer.

September 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNathanielR

Just saw Love Is Strange, and was blown away by her work. The slow burn she sustains is remarkable. To hold your own with Lithgow is no mean feat. Possibly another nom?

September 1, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

@brookesboy: Right!? She's fantastic and fully supporting that film, in a way that Oscar too often fails to reward, at least in a world where Julia Roberts in August: Osage is considered a Supporting performance. It feels like wishful thinking to predict any Oscar recognition for her or the movie, though. Hopefully the Indie Spirits will take notice, but even their track record for rewarding "actual" indies is a bit dubious as of late. I'm of course grateful for the part, easily the best she's had since The Wrestler, and totally enamored with the work, awards aside, but it's the kind of superb and damn near selfless work that's always disheartening to see go by, unrewarded and underpraised.

September 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Eng

@NATHANIEL R: There is not an actor alive that that I love enough to get me to pay to see this. In a 2 1/2 minute trailer, there should be at least one funny joke.

I enjoy funny romantic COMEDIES not unfunny super predictable films where you can accurately guess every story beat in the film based off of one trailer. If it is going to be as predictable as this thing looks then it better bring the funny.

Don't let your love of Tomei (who I adore by the way) blind you to the truth.

September 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnonny

Matthew, I think you're right about the movie's Oscar chances being slim. The Labor Day release date doesn't bode well, and it's definitely not in the mode of Oscar bait. Maybe by some miracle the Academy will not overlook Molina, Lithgow and Marisa. That scene where's she trying to work at the computer--she played that perfectly. And so true about her being an honest-to-goodness supporting player. We live in a world where Gyllenhaal, Roberts and Waltz are considered supporting: the insanity must stop now.

September 2, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Looks like a No. Yet another straight white guy asshole that gets a gold star (and hot girlfriend) for learning to not be a total asshole by the end of the movie? No thank you. Why on earth would I want to see someone as charismatic and likable as Tomei end up with a guy like him?

September 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

I disagree I find Marisa Tomei very mannered in all her performances..with that annoying wining laugh

September 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDO

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