Ari Graynor, Julie Kavner, Mark Linn-Baker and Richard Libertini - Ari Graynor, Julie Kavner, Mark Linn-Baker, Richard Libertini and Bill Army New York City, USA - Opening night of the Broadway production of 'Relatively Speaking' at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre - Curtain Call Thursday 20th October 2011
Brooks is back with another warm, smart romance along the lines of As Good As It Gets. The snappy characters are well-played by a strong cast, which makes it steadily entertaining even if it's not hugely believable.
Professional softball player Lisa (Witherspoon) and businessman Paul (Rudd) are strangers who are set up on a blind date by a mutual friend. But they discount the possibility of even meeting because Paul has become serious with his girlfriend (Conn) and Lisa is seeing a star baseball player (Wilson). Then their lives both take a turn. Lisa is cut from her team, and Paul becomes the target of a Federal investigation into the business he runs for his father (Nicholson). As their paths keep crossing, they begin to see each other in a different light.
As usual, Brooks writes extremely clever dialog that blends brainy sassiness and emotional resonance, and the film is packed with scenes in which characters have all kinds of lucid insight into the nature or relationships, usually in contrast to someone who's extremely clueless. The formula is a bit of a strain, but it keeps us engaged, mainly because the script crackles with hilariously incisive one-liners and comical gags.
And the cast members all play their roles as if they're sliding into comfy slippers. Witherspoon and Wilson are funny and laid back as well as effortlessly astute and oblivious, respectively. Rudd is breezy and adorable even as his life is flooded with sadness. Nicholson squirms a bit in an against-type role but comes up with some fine comical moments. And everyone is hugely likeable, even when two of them do rather nasty things to the other two.
Although actually they only think nasty thoughts, because the film never gets very down and dirty about the story's dark corners. It's one of those films that skims happily across the surface while making pointed observations that catch us off guard because they seem to reveal something about the nature of relationships. This leaves us feeling warm and thoughtful, even if the film ultimately fades from memory in about the time it takes for the lights to come up in the cinema.
Since being cut from the USA softball team Lisa hasn't been having the best time of it, her relationship with her professional baseball pitcher boyfriend isn't as strong as she'd like and there's not much else going on in her life; until she meets George in a lift, George is instantly infatuated with the beautiful Lisa and so begins a love triangle, but who'll win out? The business man in the middle of a crisis or the baseball player?
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Adam (Dancy) lives in a Manhattan flat on his own after the death of his father. He has Asperger syndrome, working as a toy company microchip developer and pretty hopeless at relationships. Then Beth (Byrne) moves into his building, and they strike up a friendship that leads to romance. She's attracted to his honesty, although her parents (Gallagher and Irving) aren't so sure. And the events that follow in both Adam's and Beth's lives put a heavy strain on their relationship.
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Mark Linn-Baker, Ivan Hernandez, Emily Swallow and Jeb Brown - Mark Linn-Baker, Ivan Hernandez, Emily Swallow, Jeb Brown New York City, USA - sneak peak at the new musical 'Romantic Poetry' at the Manhattan Theatre Club Wednesday 17th September 2008
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