Tuesday, 26 May 2015

The Rewrite

Imagine if you made a documentary about protecting endangered species, and then gave away a FREE giant panda skull with every DVD! Or if you wrote a book about saving the rainforests, and printed it on paper made entirely from Amazonian trees. You’d look, it has to be said, like a bit of a dick. Which is why it’s strange that The Rewrite, Marc Lawrence’s cliché-ridden, mediocre rom-com starring Hugh Grant, openly scoffs at other mediocre, cliché-ridden movies.

Directed by Marc Lawrence and out now on Blu-ray and DVD comes The Rewrite, which tells the story of Keith Michaels (Grant), an embittered, Oscar-winning screenwriter who, after penning one runaway success in the late 90s, has gotten divorced and gone broke, and is struggling to find writing work. And so it is that he begrudgingly takes a teaching job at a New York university.

At first, Michaels just isn’t interested in teaching his class. Rather than sifting through his prospective students’ screenplays to decide who should get a place on the course, he logs onto the university’s intranet and picks a selection of dorky guys and hot girls – including Karen (Bella Heathcote), whom he meets and starts flirting with before even setting foot inside the college. Karen, in case you’re wondering, is the Obvious Wrong Choice in this particular romantic comedy. And then there’s Holly (Marisa Tomei) – a mature student and single mother, and the movie’s Obvious Right Choice – who adorably bumbles around trying to get Michaels to read her script, so she can secure a last-minute place in his class even though he’s shown no discernible teaching ability.

Naturally, Michaels quickly warms to his students and strikes up a Dead Poets Society-style relationship with them. And, naturally, Michaels’ relationship with Karen quickly falls apart, leading the faculty to realise he’s a total creep and threaten to fire him. And, naturally, Michaels leaves town, only to realise what a terrible decision he’s made and how much he misses his class.

Along the way, Keith Michaels and the other characters point out flaws and clichéd plot-points in a number of movies; everything from Piranha 3D, to Dirty Dancing, to Eat Pray Love, to (funnily enough) Dead Poets Society gets lambasted, and that’s where The Rewrite’s entire premise fell apart for me. See, The Rewrite is a completely typical, unremarkable rom-com, peppered with the same tropes as every single other unremarkable rom-com on the market. Making its main character a genius writer, and having him bitch out other people’s films, seems nervy at best – at worst, it just feels a bit rude. I wondered if writer-director Marc Lawrence might have been using the film to vent his own frustrations with the Hollywood film industry.

The Rewrite probably ticks enough boxes to keep most rom-com fans happy for a couple of hours – although its rushed ending doesn’t leave much room for a satisfying relationship to develop. And Hugh Grant manages to be likeable enough to carry the majority of the film, despite his character being a complete bellend. This honestly isn’t a bad movie… It’s just not quite good enough, or original enough, or interesting enough, to carry its own creaky premise.

I’m giving The Rewrite a 3/5.


Mike Lee

The Rewrite at CeX

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