MAGGIE’S PLAN (director/writer: Rebecca Miller; screenwriters: based on a story by Karen Rinaldi; cinematographer: Sam Levy; editor: Sabine Hoffman; music: Michael Rohatyn; cast: Greta Gerwig (Maggie), Ethan Hawke (John), Julianne Moore (Georgette), Travis Fimme(l Guy), Maya Rudolph (Felicia), Bill Hader (Tony), Ida Rohatyn (Lily), Wallace Shawn (Kliegler), Mina Sundwall (Justine), Jackson Frazer (Paul), Monte Greene (Max); Runtime: 98; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Rachael Horovitz, Damon Cardasis, Rebecca Miller; Round Films/Rachael Horovitz Productions; 2015)
“For fans of Greta Gerwig, she does her usual comic thing and if you liked her before you will surely also like her here.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Rebecca Miller(“The Ballad of Jack and Rose”/”The Private Lives of Pippa Lee”)—daughter of Arthur Miller and Austrian photographer Inge Morath— is the writer-director of this wannabe whimsical screwball comedy, that veers off to rom-com dramatics and other familiar fluff tropes before it recovers from its insubstantial material and awkwardness with some gleeful and clever satiric offbeat moments. It’s based on an unpublished novel by editor-publisher Karen Rinaldi. It loads up on ingratiating urban sitcom situations that turned me off more often than amused me. Though for fans of Greta Gerwig, she does her usual comic thing and if you liked her before you will surely also like her here. Maggie (Greta Gerwig), a New York college arts career advisor at the New School, tells her straight-shooter married long-time friend Tony (Bill Hader) that she regrets her inability to hold together a romantic relationship for long. Tony’s happily married to Felicia (Maya Rudolph), and they have a child. This gives the flaky Maggie an idea that she also should have a child, but through a sperm donor. The happily married Tony is rejected by her as a donor. Instead the father chosen is Guy (Travis Fimmel), a mathematics major turned “pickle entrepreneur.” The gift is to be carried out in a professional way, using a sterilized jar, not the way Guy would have preferred making the delivery. Meantime at her college gig, Maggie develops a strong attraction to John (Ethan Hawke), a married adjunct professor of anthropology and an aspiring novelist. He’s married to the overbearing celebrated intellectual Danish anthropologist Georgette (Julianne Moore). The couple have two children aged 13 and 8 (Mina Sundwall and Jackson Frazer). When his marriage suddenly collapses, he marries Maggie. But three years later, her marriage to John also fails. She tires of paying the bills while he writes a never ending tome-like novel. She also tires of motherhood, as she cares for the 3-year-old, Lily (Ida Rohatyn), she had with John, and the two kids from his previous marriage. Maggie then hatches another plan to reunite John and Georgette. That this mess somehow works (even if only in a limited way) is a credit more to the convincing performances of the actors than the generic indie script. Gerwig is ditsy and has her funny moments, while Moore seems to be having a blast convincingly talking in a heavy Danish accent and through her acting chops holding the film together. Though it’s not my type of film, nevertheless it did enough things right in an unpredictable way not to veer completely over into a copycat Woody Allen or a Noah Baumbach romance tale in NYC.
REVIEWED ON 6/28/2016 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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