Established May 2010.

Gordie: Do you think I'm weird?
Chris: Definitely.
Gordie: No man, seriously. Am I weird?
Chris: Yeah, but so what? Everybody's weird.

Film Critic for Twin Cities Live

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Friday, August 17, 2012

Movie Review: HOPE SPRINGS

Director: David Frankel
Starring: Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, Steve Carell, Elisabeth Shue, Jean Smart

Kay (Streep) and Arnold (Jones) celebrate their thirtieth anniversary like any other day. Kay makes Arnold's standard breakfast of two eggs and one slice of bacon as he sits and reads the paper before heading to work. They have a pretty uneventful dinner with their grown children and admit their gift to each other was a cable subscription. At the end of the evening, they head into their own separate bedrooms. Yes, they have spent the majority of their marriage having separate bedrooms leaving their sexual relationship in the distant past. Kay is desperate for a change. She can no longer take the standard boring routine they have been stuck in for thirty years. She heads to the self help/marriage section of the local Barnes & Noble. A book by Dr. Bernie Feld (Carell) seems to be of some interest to her. She navigates his website, watches an introductory video, and decides he may be their only hope. Without warning to Arnold, she books a week long intensive couples therapy session for the two of them with Dr. Feld.

Arnold does not take this news well. He refuses go and thinks Kay has lost her mind. Kay tells him that she has paid for the plane tickets and that they are leaving in the morning. She packs her bags and takes off in the taxi the next morning and heads for the airport. Arnold is being stubborn and does not hop in the cab with her. Kay settles into the plane seat and is surprised to find Arnold walking down the aisle right before the plane takes flight. A giddy gleeful smile comes to Kay's face. Arnold is still not too keen and is not completely open to letting some stranger dissect their sex life. They arrive in a quaint Maine town, and Arnold is not impressed. He complains about the shutters on the windows and the lack of service on his cell phone. There is some apprehension at first during their sessions. The frank sexual talk seems to overwhelm Arnold. Kay is a little bit more willing to be open and honest than he is with her. Dr. Feld gives them sexercises to try with each of their sessions in order to put the spark back in their marriage.

The ending came and I was surprised that it was over. The movie seems fairly short, but there is nothing wrong with that. It centers mainly on Kay and Arnold with a dash of Dr. Feld. Jean Smart, Elisabeth Shue, and Mimi Rogers are in the movie as well, but their roles are left mainly as cameos. You begin to wonder why they cast great actors in such bit parts. Were there side plots left out or scenes left on the cutting room floor? I guess we will never know unless the DVD/Blu-Ray is full of special features and deleted scenes, which I highly doubt it will be.

It is no surprise that Streep and Jones give two touching performances. You have two Academy Award winning legends that have given countless of great performances. The movie works so well because of these two. Streep can have chemistry with any actor she's paired up with: Stanley Tucci, Kevin Kline, Jim Broadbent, and now Tommy Lee Jones just to name a few. The story is not all that original, but it does not have to be. These two actors have given these characters a very real, three dimensional feeling that makes the characters all the more relatable. Jones is not just a grizzly, stubborn older man. Streep is not just the helpless whiny wife. Even if you are not in the same predicament that Kay and Arnold are in, you can relate to something about their marriage. I completely understand Arnold's morning routine. There are times when both of the characters are trying to be intimate and their glasses are getting in the way. I have been there as well. Hope Springs is funny, sweet, and touching. Maybe it is my love of Goddess Meryl Streep, but it is a feel-good movie that will help you unwind after a long day.

RATING: **** (4 out of 5 stars)

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  1. Ahh, looks lovely. Maybe this is one we can use our gift card on. Nice review, Paul!

    1. Thank you! I actually thought about both of you during the movie. I think you would really like it. Please go use the gift card!

  2. A surprisingly very heartfelt rom-com that may go for the same conventions, but makes up for it with great points about relationships and great performances from Jones and Streep. Carrell feels a bit wasted here, but I guess he wasn’t causing any harm to the final product. Nice review Paul.

    1. Dan-
      Thanks for reading and commenting! Steve Carrell is interesting here. His character isn't quirky or overly funny, but they cast a very strong comedic actor in the role. He doesn't have to do anything in the role, so it is a different side of him than we are used to seeing. We are seeing THE BOURNE LEGACY tonight.