In the latest indie to set itself out as an ‘intelligent’ alternative to the classic formulaic rom-com, “Maggie’s Plan” aims high, makes a strong effort, but sadly fails. It feels like another one of Woody Allen’s more cleverless films, one that has decent enough writing but struggles to elicit any genuine laughs.(This film is written and directed by Rebecca Miller, adapted from the original Karen Rinaldi story).
Everyone’s favorite quirky hipster actress, Greta Gerwig, is perfectly cast at the titular character. Her charming demeanor works and plays well off of Ethan Hawke, who turns in one of his best performances as a professor of ficto-critical anthropology (if you find his title hysterically funny then you, my friend, are the target audience for this movie), and Julianne Moore (as a brilliant yet cold Columbia professor). The cast gives it their all; too bad these actors don’t have a better script to work with.
This messy and uneven film can’t seem to make up its mind regarding the overall tone. It’s part screwball comedy, part hipster philosophy and part family dramedy. There’s a huge emphasis on a toddler (the admittedly cute Ida Rohatyn) that was lost on me as a non-parent. I think the kid stuff is just too much and is completely unnecessary to the story.
Maya Rudolph and Bill Hader are wasted in unremarkable supporting roles; their characters are never developed and seem to exist solely for a few punchlines (that aren’t very funny). There’s only a shell of a plot and not much ever happens in relation to it. The film is just a bunch of talking and a string of cute incidents that are all (sort of) related to Maggie’s big plan. The film is very strained and the big “twist” ending is something that only a true moron couldn’t see coming from a mile away.
I didn’t hate this movie but I also can’t figure out who in the world to recommend it to. Maybe it would make a decent rental if you’re a fan of Gerwig or Hawke.
Indie cinema “it” girl Greta Gerwig stars in the new movie from Rebecca Miller (“The Ballad of Jack and Rose“). While it’s sort of interesting and mildly entertaining, there isn’t a whole lot going on in “Maggie’s Plan.”
Maggie is an educator at a local community college in New York. Maggie becomes smitten with John (Ethan Hawke), a well-liked anthropology professor that is working on a new fiction novel. John is married to and has kids with Columbia professor Georgette (Julianne Moore), but leaves Georgette for the youthful Maggie. After a couple of years with him, Maggie grows tired of John, who is too self-absorbed to ever pay any attention to her. Realizing that Georgette is still in love with John, Maggie plays matchmaker and works to get the two back together so that she can get John out of her life, guilt-free. This is all in the trailer, so I’m not spoiling anything.
These are mildly interesting characters dealing with modern problems in a New York filled with hipsters and intelligentsia (the always-delightful Bill Hader and Maya Rudolph have minor roles as the latter but are, truthfully, wasted in this movie) who are too smart for their own good. Despite their impressive educations, when it comes to relationships they are clearly emotionally stunted, dealing with their problems no better than adolescents. The idea is kinda fun on paper, but in execution it’s not all that compelling.
Gerwig and Hawke turn in reliably solid performances, but neither of them really shine. Moore appears to be channeling Maude, her heavily-accented, odd-duck character from “The Big Lebowski,” which makes her too performance too distracting to appreciate. The movie works okay as a diversion from loud summer spectacles, but is not good enough to make any lasting impression.