2003
Rated: PG-13 for adult language, violence, and sexual themes.
Genre: Romance Comedy
Directed By: Rob Reiner
Running Time: 1:36
Review by: Felix Vasquez Jr.
Review Date: 7/25/04
Special Features:
Audio Commentary - 1. Luke Wilson - Actor, Rob Reiner - Director
Theatrical Trailer
ALEX & EMMA

 

No matter how hard "Alex and Emma" tries, it's still the same package but with new wrapping. It's another recycled romantic comedy, with more recycled characters, but only with a different twist. Kate Hudson has a nasty habit of choosing horrible films of late, and Luke Wilson is no exception. In this vapid formulaic film, Luke Wilson plays Alex Sheldon, an author who released a book and is in debt with what looks like the Cuban mafia. Two Cuban thugs break into his apartment and threaten him, but then again they just could be thugs from another mafia.

So, Alex has thirty days to write and publish a book and get them their money or else he goes bye-bye (death), so he hires a stenographer. Why not a ghost writer? Someone from the publisher to help? You figure he being an author he'd be able to type fast, but he instead hires a stenographer by posing as a law agency to which we meet Emma, a beautiful (despite how hard Hudson pretends to be plain), young and uptight stenographer who is convinced by Alex to write the book as he dictates it to her.

Now, here's where the writers attempt to add an original twist: While he dictates the book, we watch the scenarios take place in his mind and then switch and mesh with one another. What exactly is the point of all this? Your guess is as good as mine, because in the end, the scenarios that take place don't do a whole lot except induce a lot of cringes, and trust me, there are cringes a plenty. Meanwhile, as Alex attempts to dictate the book Emma keeps interrupting the sequences giving her own opinion, a trick that's supposed to be charming or amusing yet is often times annoying and really intrusive, while she spouts lines like "Do you want the breasts to heave? I'm just saying they should heave!"

While this exchange between them would be humorous ten years ago before "Annie Hall" and even "Harry Met Sally" perfected it, it's just tiresome here, and these characters are literally forced on the audience. Director Rob Reiner makes the predictable cameo as Alex' publisher who refuses to give him money for his book until he finishes it, an event that lays out the rest of the film, so we must sit through these two characters bickering, talking, and insulting one another constantly. Logic is impaired in this story. Alex is asking his publisher for 25,000 for himself, and 100,000 for the men, and his publisher quickly agrees despite the fact he pissed all of his money away on gambling, and Alex isn't a good writer to begin with.

Nothing really works here, most of all, the characters, while I was open to the chance that this would at least be entertaining, there's nothing here to enjoy. Hudson who continues to disappoint me with these vapid romantic comedies doesn't come off as plain regardless of how dead and brown her hair is, and regardless of how many clothes she wears that look as if she got it from her grandma, and boy do they try hard to make her look plain, even giving her glasses that hang from beaded necklace which she hardly ever uses in the film when she's typing, so it becomes a blatant character device.

Either way, if she ever came knocking at my door, I'd marry her in a second. Anyway, pathetic fan boy fawning aside, she's shrill in this role and continues to play the same fancy free, charismatic, but strong girl who gives Alex a hard time. As usual, Alex isn't as smart as Emma and is pretty much a bum which is weird considering he's looks like an accomplished writer, and there's an odd quirk we're given of him that isn't pressed on, the fact that he becomes sick every time he has a mental block. It's something that goes in and out in the film, and then disappears by the climax, and the way his character is presented baffles me as to why Emma would be remotely interested in him.

Luke Wilson continues playing the same odd, inept, but charming character he does for all of his films, and he's an awful writer. One wonders how the character Alex even got published in the first place, but hey, we have to buy it. There's no moment in the film where we see a spark between the two characters. The audience is expected to believe these two people are falling for one another, but there's nothing, not a gaze from one another, no flirtatious talk, nada. But, there is a montage. Ah yes, you know what montage I'm talking about, the same old montage we always see in these romantic comedies of the two love birds touring Boston, laughing and having lunch. Alex says "I have to clear my mind, so let's walk around Boston", to which I yelled "What the (expletive deleted)?!" If I had thirty days to write a book, a book that had to be done, a book that had to be published or else I'd be killed by the mafia, I would be working day and night, but he goes out for lunch and to see Boston which looks a lot like New York, right.

But hey they put the scenery to work, and it sets up for the montage that makes no sense. These characters' relationship isn't smooth of fluid, it's always very trite and tacked on like clock work, almost as if the screenwriters followed a step by step instructional guide: characters are introduced, characters fight, characters fall in love. Suddenly the movie fast-forwards three weeks later and they're still writing. Amazing how they're writing three weeks later, and they're still writing in the same scene of his book. Oh, and three weeks? Doesn't that mean his time is up? Either way as a reminder to the audience, the thugs break into his apartment and proceed to smash his really nice television that suddenly appears out of nowhere and they get back to the story.

You think they'd emphasize the severity of his run-in with the mafia, but, even I admit, it would be too heavy for a PG-13 flick intended for couples. The two must sleep together in his apartment for the night, which is weird considering Emma could have easily slept on the couch, but hey they have a nice exchange as Alex asks about Emma's boyfriend to which she makes up a guy's name, obviously fabricating a boyfriend, which left me expecting the Brady kids to suddenly walk through the room. Anyway, we're rushed through these odd sequences that have no real relevance to their romance as the characters are switched. Hudson tries her best to play comedy and multiple characters by switching from a Swedish Au Pair, to a German Au Pair in a horrible accent, to a regular American Au Pair. Gosh, the girl tried her best, you can tell, but she just doesn't cut it.

So, they end up sleeping together after the "charming" exchange between the two, a scene that is horribly forced because they have no chemistry, none, nada, zero. The fantasy sequences are equally bland with a horrible, I repeat, horrible sequence where Wilson as his character proceeds to dance a Spanish dance, Hudson looking awful as a stereotypical German, and Wilson trying physical comedy but failing. All of this leads to a god-awful ending, ad nauseum. Call me cynical, but I remember the days when romantic comedies were charming, I prefer "Barefoot in the Park" over this any day of the week.

While the film attempts to come off as sweet with good intentions, and while Hudson's charisma is charming, the film is nothing original taking a good concept and created a half-baked, bland and often inconsistent romance.

 

 

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