Hope Springs

Don’t let anyone tell you that grammar isn’t important. Commas are crucial, and if you haven’t learned about prepositions yet, you could be in for some real disappointment when you discover there is a big difference between movies with sex and movies about sex.

Movies with sex are the ones that make you feel kind of tingly and usually involve a bit of sweaty nakedness and some rolling around and getting down. These films can run the gamut from lots of winking and nudging to full frontal let’s-watch-it-again-from-this-angle scenes. Porn is pretty matter of fact about what it wants to accomplish but romantic comedies are usually a bit more subtle – they like to actually wrap a plot around the sex scenes so that they can get girls to watch, too, because everyone knows that we are too genteel to admit we might be interested.

Movies about sex are a whole different beast, and that leads us to Hope Springs, a film that takes us deeper than anyone really wants to go into the intimate life of a sixty-ish Nebraskan couple. Played by Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones, Kay and Arnold have been married for a really long time and the spark has gone out completely. Kay decides that she does not want to live in a sexless marriage and books the couple a week with a noted marriage counselor, played by Steve Carrel. The bulk of the film is those sessions where we see them struggle with communication and intimacy and try to work through exercises that will bring them closer together.

This film has been praised for addressing issues that are seldom discussed and for acknowledging that people over 50 may still enjoy and actually want more sex. The performances are excellent; Meryl disappears into the role wearing Coldwater Creek prints and mousy hair and Tommy Lee Jones has more than two facial expressions, so that’s good for him. I applaud Hollywood for taking on a subject matter that is grown-up and not usually addressed.

However… I really didn’t like this movie. Kay seemed like someone from a different century, not just innocent but almost moronic. Arnold was totally shut down and I found it hard to believe that he could make such a transformation over the course of the film. Although the movie is marketed as a comedy, the scenes where they attempt intimacy are awkward and uncomfortable, and don’t even get me started on Meryl Streep attempting to go down on Tommy Lee Jones in a movie theatre. She was on her knees on the floor! If she thought it was sticky before she started, wait till she was done.

So if you’re not paying attention to your grammar, you may wind up with a film that explains the about instead of celebrates the with. Yes, I know I’m not supposed to end a sentence with a preposition. I was too distracted thinking about Tommy Lee’s dangling participle.

Barf Bag rating: ZERO BAGS Unless kneeling on a theatre floor sets off your gag reflex.

Note: I was under the impression that this was a Nancy Meyers film, the writer/director of a few other movies that have embraced the idea of older relationships. I was completely wrong and thank my fact-checker for pointing that out (This is not Newsweek magazine – I can willing admit my error. I’m looking at you, Niall Ferguson!) But clearly the marketing department wanted you to think that when you look at the posters of Nancy Meyers’ films.

5 thoughts on “Hope Springs

  1. Anonymous

    I disagree with your rating of Zero barf bags. I almost lost my dinner thinking of Meryl on her knees and…Tommy Lee’s dangling participle (but if it was the other Tommy Lee (ex of Pamela and Heather), well…yeah, still a lot of barf bags).

    1. Clearly the internet cannot be trusted for research, because the article I googled said it was directed by Nancy Meyers. Maybe they meant it was Nancy Meyers-like. I think I assumed it was because the poster looked so much like one of her films. Obviously a clever marketing device to pull in people who liked her films. Wow – two comments that forced two corrections! I really may have to ban you.

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