Twenty years after Four Weddings and a Funeral, Hugh Grant is still playing a variation on the dithering, charming Englishman.
This is one of his better recent vehicles. He is cast as Keith Michaels, a one-time hotshot screenwriter whose best years are a long time in the past. Divorced, estranged from his son and unable to pay his electricity bill in Hollywood, he takes a job as a writer-in-residence at far-away Binghampton University. The trajectory of the film is thoroughly predictable. The lecherous, cynical has-been with an appetite for sleeping with his students and a grudge against Jane Austen lets teaching get its “hooks” into him. Soon enough, he rediscovers his old idealism.
The in-jokes about Hollywood are very soft-centred, and the portrayal of the doughty and attractive single mom (Marisa Tomei) is sentimental in the extreme, but this film is still thoroughly likeable, witty and a vast improvement on Grant’s earlier collaboration with the director Marc Lawrence on Did You Hear about the Morgans?.
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