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The Rewrite (Hugh Grant) - DVD Review

The Rewrite

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

HUGH Grant has previously teamed up with writer-director Marc Lawrence for the romantic comedies Two Weeks Notice, Music & Lyrics and Did You Hear About The Morgans?, which have missed more than they’ve hit.

So, expecting much from the pair’s fourth venture was perhaps expecting a lot. It’s something of a surprise, therefore, to report that The Rewrite is their best work to date.

Generic it may be but thanks to some smart dialogue and some easy-going chemistry between its ensemble cast it wins you over in an old-fashioned, shamefully exploitative kind of way. Hence, while you can pretty much guess where this is heading from the outset, it’s kind of fun getting there anyway.

Grant plays Keith Michaels, a formerly Award-winning Hollywood screenwriter, who has hit something of a dry spell following a divorce and a string of unsuccessful films that have left him with but bad debts, a bad attitude and a lack of inspiration.

When his agent arranges a job as guest screenwriting professor at a remote university in upstate New York, Keith reluctantly accepts in the hope of being able to focus on his next script in between lessons.

However, what starts out as a means to an end, during which Michaels seems more interested in bedding his young students, soon evolves into something more rewarding and personality building, particularly once he befriends Holly (Marisa Tomei), a single mom looking to start her own new chapter.

In its favour, The Rewrite benefits greatly from having a leading man who knows his way around the genre, whether playing it like a self-centred cad (a la Bridget Jones) or turning on the charm (Notting Hill, Love Actually, etc, etc). Hence, while none of the material offers that much of a stretch for Grant, he nevertheless acquits himself well and there are plenty of smiles to be had at the way in which Michaels continually lands himself in hot water with the education authorities for his bad ways.

Tomei, too, illuminates proceedings as the feisty Holly, striking a nice banter with Grant, and making her character the kind who is easy to fall for and root for. She has long had a tendency to elevate even the most mundane material and does so again here.

Enjoyable, too, is the engaging support offered by JK Simmons, on loveable form as the university head, Chris Elliott, as a socially awkward colleague, Allison Janney as a rival teacher with a passion for Jane Austen, and Bella Heathcote, as another of Grant’s students with whom he romantically liaises with.

Of the many criticisms that could be levelled upon The Rewrite, the most obvious is the way in which Lawrence’s script struggles to offer any of its talented players something to really get their teeth into, never mind its decision to avoid any risks whatsoever.

But if you’re looking for some easy viewing that’s expertly played and the cinematic equivalent of eating comfort food, then The Rewrite more than capably delivers.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 106mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: February 9, 2015