Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. USA, 2014. Castle Rock Entertainment, Resnick Interactive Development. Screenplay by Marc Lawrence. Cinematography by Jonathan Brown. Produced by Liz Glotzer. Music by Clyde Lawrence. Production Design by Ola Maslik. Costume Design by Gary Jones. Film Editing by Ken Eluto.
Hugh Grant plays an Oscar winning screenwriter whose career has seen better days; he hasn’t had a hit since his breakthrough film and now his agent can’t get him arrested in Hollywood, so he agrees to a teaching job on the east coast that will at least tide him over until he can make his way back to the big leagues. When he arrives he finds himself ill-fitted for academia: he begins an affair with a young woman in his class and refuses to teach his screenwriting students anything useful, desperate to get back to the sunny climes of California. As is often the case when Grant plays charming ne’er-do-wellers, however, he eventually realizes that his life is shallow and that he has an opportunity to do something important, helped along by the attentions of a single-mom mature student (Marisa Tomei) working two jobs to make ends meet and always looking on the bright side of things. Meanwhile, angry Jane Austen professor Allison Janney (in a surprisingly one-note role that the actress does her best with) is on to his swindling ways and plans to do whatever she can to have him ejected as soon as possible. This mild comedy focuses on intelligent observations of personal delusions and the re-configuring that some of us need to do about our feelings about success, aided by good performances and the seemingly eternal appeal that Grant still manages to hold on to. It does not put a new spin on an old tale, however, as this tale is about as old as it gets, but it is a pleasant distraction and the cast is great.