January 14, 2009

Last Chance Harvey

Lemme guess - the book's main character is a real person

Grade: B –

Director: Joel Hopkins

Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson, Eileen Atkins, Kathy Baker, and James Brolin

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 1 hour, 32 minutes

There is charm to spare in pairing Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson together in Last Chance Harvey, which could best be described as a variation of Before Sunrise for the sunset years. He’s the titular sad sack nursing a failed marriage and failed career as an advertising jingle writer who flies to London for his daughter’s wedding. She’s Kate, a middle-aged spinster struggling to dodder through the dating scene and escape the incessant ringtone of her clingy mother.

After meeting cute at Heathrow Airport, the two embark on a whirlwind day-into-night on the town. Notwithstanding some standout solitary moments – his father-of-the-bride toast being foremost – Hoffman mostly stands stolid while Thompson acts circles around him. The humdrum screenplay is garden variety Lifetime network, and precious little happens you couldn’t have predicted before the theater’s house lights went dark. Still, these two acting pros manage to whip the schmaltz into a treacly treat: A romantic-comedy that’s heavy on the rom and light on the com.

Neil Morris

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