Alice in Movieland

{January 29, 2010}   Hope Springs (2003)

When British artist Colin Ware (Colin Firth) receives an invitation to the wedding of his fiancée and another man, he flies to the most hopeful sounding place he can find: Hope, Vermont. He arrives, nearly immobilized by emotional distress, and his motel manager (Mary Steenburgen) calls her friend Mandy (Heather Graham) who’s a therapist at the local nursing home to come talk to him. She’s young and attractive, but things quickly become ridiculous with her glugging down an entire bottle of liquor on their first outing and then stripping down and jumping around his motel room because being naked makes her happy (couldn’t be due to the fact that she’s drunk). Colin is thus instantly attracted to her (well, she *is* naked), but the movie then tries to make us believe that their attraction builds slowly as they continue to see each other around town. Who wrote this script?? Anyway, they’re supposed to be in a believable relationship, happy and falling in love, when Colin’s ex-fiancée Vera (Minnie Driver) shows up claiming that the invitation was just a gag to get his attention because she felt they were drifting apart (hello, heartless psycho). Colin tells her to leave, but in a most annoyingly stubborn fashion she continues to hang around to attempt to get him to take her back. She slyly tricks Mandy, who responds something like a melodramatic teenager and tells Colin they’re through. Pepper in a bit more unbelievability and plotting which I suppose was intended to be intriguingly suspenseful and the movie ends up falling far short of its goal of being a witty and charming romantic comedy.

I’m sure the actors did the best they could with what they had, but it comes off as ridiculous and I blame very bad writing. By far, not my favorite Mary Steenburgen piece (though, to her credit, she does do ditzy almost too well – very scary) and I prefer Firth in roles a little more… I’m not even sure what. Random: Oliver Platt plays the major.


{January 27, 2010}   Then She Found Me (2007)

This is the story of a woman named April (Helen Hunt). We’re immediately and without explanation thrown into her life. She’s having difficulty getting pregnant, but is very set against adopting, having been adopted herself and insisting that the bonding isn’t as strong as with biologically related parents and children. Very next scene: her husband (Matthew Broderick) is apologetically telling her that he’s leaving her, saying he made a mistake (assumably marrying her), but he hopes they can be friends. She kisses him and they have sex one last time on the kitchen floor (which, I have to tell you, was just gross, because, after his pathetic “I’m going to leave you” blah-blah, he’s a spineless, whimpy little twerp, and I’m like, “Ew, don’t sleep with the disgusting boy-man!!” Thoroughly repulsive and I feel violated even having to *watch* something that immature grope a woman. Seriously, he’s like prepubescent-nasty. How can you let that near you?) and then he leaves. Next scene: chaos at the elementary school where she’s a teacher, because her husband, who apparently used to work there too, has quit and all of his students are funneled into her classroom. Next scene: her adoptive mother’s funeral. NEXT scene: she receives news that her biological mother wants to contact/meet her for the first time. The effect: You’re left feeling like you’re being drug behind a car and you’re not even sure where it’s going. When we meet her mother (Bette Midler), oh maybe a minute later, she’s overwhelming. No other word for it. Simply overwhelming. WHY AM I WATCHING THIS MOVIE??? Oh, yeah. Colin Firth‘s in it. He plays Frank, the sleep-deprived father of one of her students whose wife conveniently also left him, aka, the romantic interest, though it’s somewhat unnerving how quickly said interest is developed. He is, of course, though, beautiful to behold and that makes up for a good deal of  the movie’s other failings. Almost… Anyway, insert attraction and complications and overbearing mother and slimey husband and a pregnancy and some scenes with a very hurt or angry Frank… and it just keeps going… The only part that resonates with me is the desperate sense of frustration when she’s trapped between two lives. Will she be able to be with Frank, who truly gets her, or is she stuck (by a formerly wanted pregnancy) with a poor excuse for a man? Just remember that we end up with a happy, albeit anticlimactic, ending in the end. That’s where you would put the happy ending, afterall, is at the end, but with this movie you’ve been wishing it would hurry up since you started watching and you weren’t quite sure you were going to make it all the way through. But did I mention Colin Firth’s in it?

Hunt directed as well as starred in this movie and perhaps that’s why it turns into something of a melodrama swirling around her character. A very dull, drawn out melodrama. Not the worst, but definitely one of the lower points of my Colin Firth fest.

et cetera