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Alex and Emma /

Rated: PG-13

Starring: Luke Wilson, Kate Hudson, Jordan Lund, Sophie Marceau, David Paymer
Directed by: Rob Reiner
Produced by: Todd Black, Alan Greisman, Jeremy Leven, Rob Reiner, Elie Samaha
Written by: Jeremy Leven, Adam Scheinman
Distributor: Warner Bros.


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     Alex and Emma has all of the crucial elements that a movie needs to survive on, but can never quite maintain a steady relationship with its audience. I like certain things in it, but the final product isn’t anywhere near as good as the several masterpieces on director Rob Reiner’s resume. As a film, it has the most defiant range of likeability we will ever see come out of the industry. Alex and Emma is all over the place; it often hits jackpots of great material, but leaves dull and boring cracks in it’s structure, in between doing so. The wonderful moments of quality filmmaking and the charisma and chemistry of and between the two stars is luckily enough to satisfy, though. I was engaged for most of the duration of Alex and Emma, and can’t say it’s not worth your time and money.

     Alex Sheldon (Luke Wilson) has thirty days to pay off a one-hundred-thousand dollar loan to the Cuban mafia. In order to do so, he must finish an entire book, and receive a paycheck from his publisher. If he doesn’t produce the book from cover to cover, and receive the money from his loose employer by the deadline, two big and burly Cuban loan sharks will kill him. Alex is struggling to even write a quality first line; he’s in desperate need of inspiration. To be able to concentrate solely on the development of characters and finishing his book by the very imminent deadline, he hire’s Emma Dinsmore (Kate Hudson) to dictate the entire piece. He talks, she types—or so it’s supposed to be. Emma constantly puts Alex’s ideas down, and offers her own suggestions for the story he’s creating, which often ruins his composure as a writer; but, nonetheless, the two always keep at it. Alex writes off experience, and the love story that begins to unravel in his book is actually a metaphorical account of the budding romance between Emma and him, even though she doesn’t usually realize it.

     There is one thing that really kills Alex and Emma—the plot that Alex creates and Emma dictates isn’t interesting, and we are never anxious to see it unravel. The story of his book is portrayed on film, just like the scenes set in present day; this film is told through a duel structure, if you will. Both stories are interweaved beautifully, and symbolize an intriguing romance; it’s actually very sad that only one of them is worthy of watching. While the scenes that feature Alex arguing about the motivations of the characters in his book with Emma as she’s dictating are a stroke of genius, the actual plot of the piece is stupid; devoid of humor, love, and passion. Alex and Emma is lucky that only a third of its scenes are portrayals of its male-lead’s novel, because they’re really the only thing that brings it down from being the perfect romance film. If Alex had been a better writer, this film would’ve received a gleeful recommendation from me. Alex and Emma still does, however, have its moments. It’s worth a rental, at the very least.

     The two stars, Hudson and Wilson, are exactly as I expected—charming. The chemistry they have together onscreen is also tremendous, and helps many of the otherwise ‘dead’ scenes become tolerable. If it weren’t for them, the incoherent script would’ve dragged the entire movie down, and earned it a ‘dead on arrival’ label. But, thankfully, things turned out okay because of proper casting. Hudson is sexy, sweet, and hilarious and Wilson maintains his sensible, nice-guy appeal. If you’re in the mood for a passably enjoyable romance show, Alex and Emma is a sure bet, and this is made definite by the two leads. I saw it at a matinee, and when I walked out of the theatre, I felt as though I had gotten my moneys worth and what I bargained for. I can’t, really, ask for anything more of a film of this genre than what is accomplished. I’m not a fan of romantic comedies, but this one doesn’t have as much of a formulaic, clichéd feel as most of the others do. For what its worth, Alex and Emma is a functioning and enjoyable work.

     While I’m not astounded by Alex and Emma, and didn’t plan to be, I can give it a mild recommendation for the witty amounts of ambition that it showcases. Whether these come on the behalf of the director, cast, or designers is usually insignificant, as long as the result is pleasing. The scenes in Alex and Emma range from painfully flat to inventively inspired, which the perfect equation for a date-flick. Hudson and Wilson are perfect together; saving the film from being an endurance test, and actually salvage some of the witty moments in the script. This is also a step in the right direction for director Reiner, who has made some very bad films lately, even though he’s also been behind tons of masterpieces. Bottom line: Alex and Emma is a whole lot better than you might expect, and is worth giving a try. You’re in for a pleasant (even though, at times, empty) motion picture.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews

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