Only a little need for a rewrite
A script writer writing about a writer who writes – The Rewrite. If The Rewrite is not entirely a self-expressive piece, then it would fail. The best are often charged by personal life experience. The Rewrite even says so. Deliberately.
Regular Hugh Grant collaborator, director, and writer Marc Lawrence churns the minefield of Hollywood scriptwriting through Keith Michaels (Grant), a writer down after a late ’90s boom who is shoved off into the realm of university teaching. From L.A. to soggy Binghampton, NY he goes.
Rewrite is tightly intertwined with itself. Grant’s words are self-conscious about the predicament and his teaching capacity is less about his ability to spill knowledge than it is personal; his scenario drives his class although he fails to see it happening. Incoming are a litany of mid-life crises: The relationship with a young woman/student, the drinking, and sarcastic mishaps. It’s all for laughs. Grant lifts much of the material above its mundane framing, even if he himself seems cast purely to play Hugh Grant’s screen persona.
There is snap to the line delivery and a smattering of worthwhile side characters. JK Simmons has a pleasantly amusing bit as an overly emotional father, Allison Janney is a spiteful tenured Jane Austen fanatic, and Marisa Tomei is perky Marisa Tomei. Actually, much of the cast slips into a prescribed role. It’s a problem.
The script falls in on itself too. Call out the inevitable montage moment as Grant’s character realizes he’s happy beforehand and you’ll be right. The break-up, the run back to this previously dreary life; it’s all on cue. Hopelessly familiar, really.
And know what? It probably should be. There is something to be said for Rewrite being utterly enamored by the process of scriptwriting and how, as an industry, cinema is often reliant on the familiar ebbs and flows. It’s smart enough to act on the passe, sometimes worn processes and concoct something with charm. Hugh Grant’s casting was the blinking neon sign with two giant arrows pointing toward him to signal the acknowledgment of the concept.
However, Rewrite is still stuck in the midst of a slog through lukewarm scripting. Pacing reflects that dissatisfying end result. By the end, there is a pick-up. Rewrite catches on again as it works through its predictability and the sarcasm flares up. It leaves happy. Grant’s happy. Tomei is smiling. Simmons cries. The world is even again and this harmless affair drifts into memory. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Movie]
Cinematography is soft. Really soft. “Fidelity adverse.” That works. Close-ups are minor, flat, and lacking. Resolution feels stunted. The few which succeed appear as an anomaly.
Clarity is mostly fine though. There are rounds of noise to contend with. Walls in darker scenes tend to buzz. None of this is a fault of the encode as far as an educated guess can go. Compression is nicely handled by Image with pleasing parameters.
Post production gives Rewrite a touch of the teals, sapping some of the life. Flesh tones are bland, matching the intended weariness of Binghampton’s weather. It’s always cloudy. The color scheme reflects this on nearly every scene.
Likewise, contrast is on the weaker end. Depth too. Black levels have their moments to work and do so with negligible impact. Even for a relatively low budget comedy, Rewrite has few distinctive visual qualities of note. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Video]
Much of the feature takes place on a campus where lively ambiance can take over. There is lots of chatter to take notice of. Same goes for a few high class parties and restaurant scenes where the surrrounds add some energy.
What else can be expected? Not much. It is a routine comedy after all. Music will provide a low-end presence. Tracks do a bit of a mild dance into the surrounds too. Dialog sticks to the center; there is no adventuring here. It is what is expected. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Audio]
Two deleted scenes (short ones) and a plot recap featurette (7:47) are the two bonuses offered. It’s not much to chew on. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Extras]
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Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.