While Sweet November is actually a remake of a 1968 film, it plays more like a two-hour episode of that oh-so-quirky-but-loveable TV show Dharma and Greg. He's a straight-laced, career-oriented, workaholic suit; she's the funky clothes-wearing, fun-loving free spirit who changes his life. The only differences are that the movie has prettier stars, certainly less funny lines, and a much more downbeat ending. But, fear not, romantic drama fans; there's plenty of adorable puppy dogs and wide-eyed little kids to soften the blow.
One treat for you shallow ladies in the crowd (guilty!) is the return of Keanu Reeves as the romantic, studly leading man. He's still as dumb as a post, but he's the fitting hero to such a dumb and implausible tale. He plays Nelson Moss, a hot shot ad man with swank things but too regimented a life to enjoy them. After a fateful run-in with carefree Sarah Deever (Charlize Theron) at the DMV, she tracks him down, and tries to convince him that he should move into her shabby-chic hippie spread for a month to become a better man. Apparently, she's done this sort of thing with other men before him with great success.
Of course, our boy loses his job and girlfriend the very next day, and ends up with Dharma, er, Sarah by nightfall. Soon, we're being run through a montage of bliss, love, and general nausea as our odd couple romps across beaches with puppies in tow and plays endearing trust games that involve blindfolds -- and all the while, an Enya soundtrack plays constantly in the background. But, something's amiss. Bubbly Sarah doesn't speak to her family, and gets weird headaches. And, her best pal, the downstairs gay neighbor (who loves to dress in drag -- don't they all?), is keeping some heavy secrets under wraps for our smiley princess.
Yes, go ahead and sigh. But, please, could someone tell me how this would ever happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime? How can I sign up for this service? If I were a guy, and a gorgeous woman took me into her apartment, had passionate sex with me and supported my ass for a month, it'd change my life, too! Perhaps this is more romantic science fiction than anything.
Aside from being improbable, the writing is significantly laughable at times, and the acting -- especially in the case of our lovely eye-candy Keanu -- is notably wooden. Only Theron manages to exercise any real chops, and Liam Aiken as Sarah's kid neighbor is surprisingly good compared with his adult counterparts. Also, for such a syrupy love story, Keanu and Charlize never really seem to get the chemistry boiling, even during their "steamy" love scenes. And, as a final insult, the ending is such a miserable letdown, you'll likely be saying, "That's it?" as the credits roll.
So, unless you and your Valentine like cooing at those puppy dogs or are just a pair of romantic masochists, save Sweet November for a sweet November video rental.
Sweet puppy love.