Film review: The Rewrite (12A)

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Twenty years ago, Hugh Grant donned his crown as floppy-haired prince regent of the romantic comedy in Four Weddings And A Funeral, winning a Bafta and Golden Globe for his efforts.

Notting Hill, About A Boy, Two Weeks Notice and Love Actually and a recurring role as a bounder in the Bridget Jones films have enforced his screen image as the bumbling bachelor, who inadvertently insults the girl but still wins her heart.



The Rewrite, which reunites Grant with director Marc Lawrence for the fourth time, won’t alter that perception.

Light, frothy and utterly forgettable, this flimsy tale of second-chance love and self-acceptance plays to the leading man’s strengths, endearing us to his morally flawed character despite a propensity for the occasional fib and social faux pas.

Grant could deliver this performance in his sleep so it’s fortunate that he is nuzzled by a solid supporting cast including the luminous Marisa Tomei as his potential love interest and the always glorious Allison Janney as a humourless Jane Austen scholar, who won’t tolerate unethical behaviour among her faculty colleagues.

Fifteen years ago, screenwriter Keith Michaels (Grant) was the toast of Hollywood.

His script for Paradise Misplaced scooped a Golden Globe and the film industry bowed down at his altar.

Unfortunately, successive scripts have flopped and Keith is fast approaching 50, his marriage has collapsed, he is estranged from his son Alex and he is struggling to pay the bills.

Thanks to his agent Ellen (Caroline Aaron), he lands a position as writer-in-residence at Binghamton University on the outskirts of New York, teaching a screenwriting course to 10 talented students.

“It’s impossible to know what anyone could teach here except, ‘Get out!’” quips Keith in voiceover as he surveys his new home.

Fellow staff including Dr Harold Lerner (JK Simmons) and Professor Jim Harper (Chris Elliott) offer Keith a hearty welcome but Professor Mary Weldon (Janney) proves more difficult to win over.

His young students including star-struck beauty Karen (Bella Heathcote), Star Wars obsessive Billy (Andrew Keenan-Bolger) and enviably talented nerd Clem (Steven Kaplan) hang on Keith’s every stuttering word but it’s mature sophomore Holly (Marisa Tomei) who catches his eye.

They spark a simmering attraction but Keith’s insecurities threaten to derail the fledgling relationship.

The Rewrite is a gently effervescent confection that follows a predictable narrative arc and lightly tugs heartstrings as Grant’s cynical scribe overcomes his disdain for the teaching profession.

Tomei radiates maternal loveliness in an underwritten role and as the only eligible female of a similar age to Keith, she’s destined to fall for his dithering.

The supporting cast scene-steal, including Simmons as the proud family man and Desert Storm veteran who wells up when he talks about his children.

The script is peppered lightly with smart one-liners to ensure a lively tempo.

Rating: 3/5

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