Monday, February 16, 2015

Marc Lawrence and the virtues of The Rewrite

Marc Lawrence has made four Hugh Grant comedies. He seems to understand Grant's abilities better than anyone. Hugh Grant in the right vehicle is as effective as Cary Grant. Lawrence favors good one liners, interesting settings and strong supporting casts. His version of the Grant character is less fumbling and romantic, more sardonic and a bit of a cad. There is a touch of a con man to this character that works well.

One should skip Did You Hear About the Morgans. The fish out of water scenario, Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker hiding out from danger in Wyoming, is light on laughs and there is no chemistry between Grant and Sarah Jessica.

One should start with Two Weeks Notice. Grant is charming. Sandra Bullock is used effectively as Lucy who has ideals is not the prettiest girl in the room but has efficent smarts and makes Grant's millionaire cad, George  totally reliant on her.

George Wade: Before you came into my life I could make all kinds of decisions now I'm addicted I have to know what you think. What do you think?
[holds up cufflinks]
Lucy Kelson: I think your the most selfish human being on the planet.
George Wade: Well that's just silly. Have you met everybody on the planet?

The masterpiece is Music and Lyrics

It has spot on representations of 80s music. Alex (Grant) is a washed up singer that used to be in a Wham type group. It has a spot on parody of Britney Spears, played by Hailey Bennett who will never be better. It has able support from everyone especially Drew Barrymore. This is the film that best captures her easy to love nature. The film makes an argument that although pop songs may seem silly, the right ones are just as important as those things we call art and mean as much if not more to us. This is a classic pop song of a movie, perfect in its way.

Almost as good is The Rewrite. It is about a screenwriter (Grant) who won an Oscar but is now down on his luck and teaching at a small college. JK Simmons is the head of his department, and his part is touching. Chirs Elliot is a Shakespear professor (!), and it works. Every student, from the easy lay to the Star Wars nerd are given lines that flesh them out in suprising ways. The students are so interesting that it is easy to see why Grant would (spoiler) want to stay and teach them by the end. This is a film about teaching and less about romance, though it is billed as a rom com. Marisa Tomei is the love interest but not in the usual meet cute way. What is cool is that she likes him and he likes her but they do not need each other. She shows Grant around town, in the best scene, to a spot where the carousel episode of the Twilight Zone was filmed. Maybe there is something in the film that mirrors that episode about growing up and moving forward. But what is being offered most is good screenwriting, good screenwriting tweaks expectations in an interesting way.