We've seen enough romantic comedies to know how the formula works -- guy gets girl, guy loses girl, guy gets girl back. Because these films are so ridiculously predictable by nature, a successful romantic comedy will have to masquerade its obvious intentions behind a story that leads us to the obligatory ending in an unconventional way. And for two thirds of director Rob Reiner's Alex and Emma, the story cleverly disguises what we perceive, and gives us every indication we're witnessing something fresh. Unfortunately, the final third reverts back to the conventional, and the film falls dramatically short of its potential.
Alex Sheldon (Luke Wilson) is a budding novelist suffering from a severe case of writer's block that is holding him back from starting his book and getting the paycheck he desperately needs. Alex's debt collectors have given him only 30 days to complete his novel, collect the money, and pay of his gambling debt. Otherwise, Alex's life story will come to an end. Almost out of options, Alex convinces stenographer Emma Dinsmore (Kate Hudson) to quickly translate his thoughts to the written word. The story Alex tells pertains to a 1920s romantic triangle between grade school tutor Adam Shipley (also played by Wilson), the beautiful French matriarch (Sophie Marceau) of Shipley's charges, and the family au pair Anna (Hudson).
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