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dir-scr Bart Freundlich
prd Bart Freundlich, Mark Gill, Robert Katz, Tim Perell
with Catherine Zeta-Jones, Justin Bartha, Rob Kerkovich, Kate Jennings Grant, Lynn Whitfield, Kelly Gould, Andrew Cherry, Joanna Gleason, Art Garfunkel, John Schneider, Sam Robards, Stephen Park
release UK 30.Jul.10
The cougar and the toyboy: Zeta-Jones and Bartha
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
A charming and observant tone helps lift this above most romantic comedies, at least until the formula kicks in during the final rather contrived act. But until then, it keeps us happily smiling and sighing along.
After she catches her husband cheating, 40-year-old Sandy (Zeta-Jones) takes her two kids (Gould and Cherry) and moves into Manhattan. She finds an entry-level job and a flat above a coffee shop, where recently divorced 25-year-old barista Aram (Bartha) is happy to watch the kids. Meanwhile, Sandy's pal Daphne (Grant) urges her to get back out on the dating scene, but after a few disastrous nights the babysitter starts to look like a possibility. But can they overcome their age difference and recover from their bad past relationships?
Frankly, the age gap doesn't seem very dramatic, because Aram is such a mature charmer. Sure, his career path is unfocussed and he lives with his parents (Gleason and Garfunkel), but he's such a nice guy and so perfect for Sandy that it's impossible to believe many of the script's obstacles to their relationship. Sure, their friends and family would make fun of them, but when something works this well, you don't throw it away without a good reason.
Besides this, the film has a sharp comical tone, nicely catching a more feminine perspective on the relationship world than we usually see on screen. Sandy's initial visit to a female-empowerment seminar is hilarious, and the dialog throughout the film is funny and real. Zeta-Jones and Bartha play these scenes nicely, and are ably supported by an ace cast. Even the kids are excellent, developing sassy characters all their own.
So it's a little frustrating that Freundlich lurches through the story, skipping chunks of time along the way. The vignettes are telling and often jaggedly amusing (an actors' showcase is particularly funny, but a water birth isn't). Perhaps a 15-year age difference is a big deal for an older generation, but it certainly seems like a non-issue today, when 40-year-olds often behave like children. And this film takes such a misstep here that the final scenes feel corny and forced as a result, no matter how delicately assembled and well-performed they are.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2010 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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