The Rewrite – Review
Conceptually not a million miles removed from Josh Radnor’s preposterously beige Liberal Arts, there’s a curious case of life imitating art with The Rewrite; a film written and directed by Binghamton University graduate and frequent Hugh Grant collaborator Marc Lawrence, in which Grant plays a washed-up screenwriter who takes on a teaching role at the very same university. In fairness, the film does go out of way to wax lyrical on the notion of writers writing about what they know; yet despite initially serving as a more accessible and cynically saccharine take on Radnor’s film, it fails to come together due largely to issues that are themselves referenced and offhandedly acknowledged on-screen.
As past-it’s-time as Grant’s shtick is by now, the man hasn’t skipped a beat and in fact imbues his lead with a welcome addition of maturity that brings at least something noticeably new to the time-tested performance. Allison Janney meanwhile has a lot of fun with a brilliantly stiff and antagonistic role, while JK Simmons provides superb – yet all too brief – comic relief as Grant’s would-be supervisor. The rest of the supporting cast however fare rather poorly with a smattering of token student roles which simply lack depth or definition. When one refers to another by name, for example, you’ll struggle to remember precisely which character they’re referring. One likes Star Wars, another is a Disney girl, that’s the level at which the script operates. Yet with a multitude of scenes wasted on a wholly unnecessary romantic sub-plot between Grant and (the worryingly-frozen-in-time) Marissa Tomei, the film could easily and ironically have benefitted from a rewrite that entirely replaced said scenes with actual development for the vastly more potentially interesting student characters.
Despite a refreshingly breezy first act, the story goes entirely in the direction you expect it will; but it’s to the credit of Lawrence’s writing and Grant’s continuously engaging performance that The Rewrite at least has the courtesy to be faintly charming about it. An unthreatening dramedy that sadly falls back on heavily worn rom-com tropes, it’s harmlessly diverting and at least passably enjoyable.
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Hugh Grant, Marissa Tomei, Allison Janney