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Review: 'The Rewrite' is a weakly written movie about screenwriting

Hugh Grant goes from cad to nice guy while ignoring the genuine charms of Marisa Tomei.
Rewrite

Marisa Tomei doesn't totally have eyes for Hugh Grant in "The Rewrite."

RLJ Entertainment/Image

‘The Rewrite’
Director:
Marc Lawrence
Stars: Hugh Grant, Marisa Tomei
Rating: PG-13
2 (out of 5) Globes

It’s too easy to slam a movie about screenwriting for its lazy, cliched script, one that largely falls back on the charms of its overqualified cast to carry it through. Thing is, “The Rewrite” should have a meatier screenplay, quite apart from the fact that screenwriting is its hero’s occupation. Or at least it was: once upon a time Grant’s Keith Michaels wrote a beloved classic, one still universally loved. But he’s never properly followed it up and, unemployable and cash-strapped, he grouchily accepts a position at an East Coast college. Once there, he promptly plays hooky and peoples his classes with hotties he can confer with after school.

“The Rewrite” is Grant’s fourth go-around with director Marc Lawrence, a maker of light high-concept souffles, some disposable (“Two Weeks Notice”), some surprisingly worthwhile (“Music and Lyrics”). This starts off looking like the latter but moves into the former. Keith is one of Grant’s lovable cads, the more evil the better. But he’s clearly on the road to redemption, and Grant only appears interested if he’s playing a jerk, a stamming softie or Merchant-Ivory serious. He can’t do just nice, and that’s where “The Rewrite” is mindlessly trudging. It’s a film that promises more than it has any intention of delivering. That Keith’s hesitant romance with an older student (Marisa Tomei, reliably lowing) remains hesitant would count as a novel twist on formula — if it didn’t clearly find the idea of Grant shtupping someone only four years his junior icky.

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge

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