Image Entertainment | Release Date: February 13, 2015
7.0
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Generally favorable reviews based on 22 Ratings
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ClariseSamuelsAug 14, 2015
The Rewrite is a romantic comedy that sometimes flirts dangerously with being appallingly mediocre, and just when you think the film is about to go off the deep end and graduate from being mundane to being simply awful, Hugh Grant and MarisaThe Rewrite is a romantic comedy that sometimes flirts dangerously with being appallingly mediocre, and just when you think the film is about to go off the deep end and graduate from being mundane to being simply awful, Hugh Grant and Marisa Tomei yank it back from the brink and set it straight again. There is also some support from J.K. Simmons, Allison Janney, and Chris Elliott with respect to the yanking effort.

Grant is playing Keith Michaels, an Oscar-winnng screenplay writer who has not written anything of substance for at least fifteen years. In the interim he has had a few box-office turkeys, a divorce (his wife left him for the man who directed his best movie), and he is alienated from his grown-up son. His agent (Caroline Aaron) still loves him but can’t get him arrested, and she finally suggests that he take a temporary job as writer-in-residence at a college in upstate New York, where he will teach screenplay writing. Michaels balks at the idea, his philosophy being “those who can do, those who can’t teach,” until the electric company shuts off his lights, at which point any kind of employment starts looking attractive.

Michaels arrives in Binghamton, New York with a bad attitude and a chip on his shoulder. He’s a Hollywood snob who has no use for the Home of the Spiedie Sandwich. He has his first supper at Wendy’s where he meets a student who has already signed up for his course (Bella Heathcote). He immediately sleeps with her apparently because he’s an incurable cad which means there he stands, and he can do no other. She is not his true love, however, and he comes close to being fired for cavorting with an undergraduate. His true love turns out to be an older student named Holly (Marisa Tomei), a single mom who works two jobs and believes she can still establish herself as a writer in her late 40’s, whereas Michaels has given up on hope and optimism, even though he secretly admires Holly for being so positive. Slowly, she and a handful of associates pull Michaels out of his low-level despair and force him to respond to humanity once again.

There are quirky but lovable characters—J.K. Simmons is the English department head who is obsessively devoted to his wife and four daughters; Allsion Janney is a hard-hearted, toughened bird who wants to fire Michaels for violating ethical principles but who can be easily seduced by her love for all things Jane Austen, and Chris Elliott is a Shakespeare expert who prides himself on having the perfect quote for every situation. The film actually gives a fairly realistic view of eccentric and idiosyncratic literature professors who may like their students but often hate each other, and who have trouble understanding that their professorships have locked them up in an Ivory Tower where they have a rather distorted perception of reality. In other words, they have no idea how weird they are. Michaels, however, turns out to be the genuine article. He finds his true calling by teaching others, and he seeks to inspire, encourage, and advise. He ignores department politics to the best of his ability, and as an outsider, he brings out the best in his colleagues. He falls in love with Holly, who is an age-appropriate student, but will not proceed until the writing course ends and the relationship can be deemed kosher.

The surprise in this was not the ending, which was highly predictable, but in the understated performance of Hugh Grant, who has lost his playboy handsomeness and has acquired a steely grit that he never had before. His sarcasm in past roles was always charming and superficial; now his caustic wit denotes toughness, fortitude, and an elaborate defense system for facing a hostile world. Tomei has also evolved into a character with more depth and complexity. It would appear that Tomei and Grant, ages 50 and 54 respectively, are now fully formed grown-ups.
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5
tvnewsguidoApr 4, 2015
It's not terrible. The dialogue is crisp and often subversively funny. Allison Janney is woefully underutilized and Chris Elliott was about half as annoying as I usually find him to be.

It's all pretty standard RomCom fair but if you're
It's not terrible. The dialogue is crisp and often subversively funny. Allison Janney is woefully underutilized and Chris Elliott was about half as annoying as I usually find him to be.

It's all pretty standard RomCom fair but if you're looking for something mildly entertaining for a couple hours - The Rewrite ain't bad.
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