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Film review: ‘The Rewrite’ avoids typical rom-com pitfalls

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Three stars

The Rewrite Hugh Grant, Marisa Tomei, Bella Heathcote. Directed by Marc Lawrence. Not rated. Available on Video on Demand.

The Rewrite marks the fourth time actor Hugh Grant and writer-director Marc Lawrence have worked together on a romantic comedy, and their previous efforts range from tolerable (Music and Lyrics) to atrocious (Did You Hear About the Morgans?). The Rewrite is actually quite enjoyable at times, which by default makes it Grant and Lawrence’s best collaboration yet. The setup is pretty formulaic, with Grant’s washed-up screenwriter Keith Michaels working as a writer-in-residence at an upstate New York college, first dismissing and then falling for middle-aged single mother Holly Carpenter (Marisa Tomei), who enrolls in his class.

But Lawrence manages to avoid many of the rom-com pitfalls that he himself popularized, giving The Rewrite’s supporting characters surprising nuances (aided by a cast that includes Chris Elliott, Allison Janney and J.K. Simmons). Grant is charming in a part he’s played many times before, and he has strong chemistry with both Tomei and Bella Heathcote as Keith’s initial, obviously inappropriate love interest. As rewrites go, this one represents a decent improvement.

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