Friday, May 8, 2009

Last Chance Harvey

"Last Chance Harvey" is a sound romance that rushes way too fast to a end point that is charming. Joel Hopkins' writing and directing is somewhat lukewarm, and his story is as tepid as a so-so pulp. But his actors, Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson, act together well enough to transcend what's going on around them. This is how the movie pulls together. Hoffman, probably not half as good an actor as he used to be, plays Harvey, a pianist whose estranged daughter is tying the knot in London and who's career as a jingle music writer is slowly fading. He's succumbed from the fun guy he used to be to a bumbling, cell-phone bound divorcee (his wife Kathy Baker is now married to James Brolin). Thompson, who's still decent, plays Kate, an airport worker who's personal life is dominated by her demanding mother (Eileen Atkins).

These two stories converge since Thompson bumps into Hoffman at the airport and the two start to fall in love. This creates the first real joy of Harvey's last-chance-bound life. From their meeting, the story starts taking predictable turns and going into unfortunately familiar ground. Bad literature, wedding toasts not nearly as awkward as those in "Rachel Getting Married," etc. Hopkins doesn't go far with a possibly above average premise. It's all wrapped in corny backstory, one of the reasons I didn't like it as much as I could have. It could have been innovative, more than just cute and light. I know, people like to escape to such fare as "Last Chance Harvey." It is prime escapism. Although it's charming, it's also moderately disposable. I know, I know, I'm harsh and such. I liked it, and I think it assembled a nice relationship that provided for a nice time. But still, can't we expect a little more? C+

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