This movie has only mediocre reviews, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Perhaps I am biased, since it was filmed at my college alma mater, Binghamton University. (Rod Serling is the school’s most famous graduate.) The movie is consistently funny, and has a great ensemble cast. Hugh Grant, playing his usual flawed but lovable character, is at his sarcastic and self-effacing best.
Keith Michaels (Grant) was once a successful screenwriter with a huge AW Best Picture hit, but his two subsequent movies were flops. He is unemployed and broke, so he reluctantly accepts a temporary assignment at SUNY-Binghamton University, to teach a screenwriting course. He doesn’t believe talent can be taught and is just doing it for the money. He plans to use the time to write a screenplay and put as little energy into his class as possible.
At a faculty party, held the night before he starts teaching, he manages to alienate the powerful Dr. Mary Weldon (Alison Janey). He picks most of the students for the class by how pretty they are, and only chooses two males to avoid suspicion. After interacting with the students for awhile, however, his attitude and commitment change. J.K Simmons is the Department Head – Dr. Lerner – who tries to guide Michaels, but with only limited success.
Holly Carpenter (Marisa Tomei) is a single mother with two daughters. She is trying to create a second chance for herself by getting a college degree. She petitions to take the class, even though she wasn’t initially picked. She has a philosophy of life diametrically opposed to that of Michaels.
We all know where this is headed, but it was fun to watch it develop and play out. The film was written and directed by Mark Lawrence. As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t need a rewrite.
Rating-7.5 – good movie, and considerably-better-than-average rental.