The Rewrite is a 2014 American romantic comedy film written and directed by Marc Lawrence. The film stars Hugh Grant as a washed-up screenwriter who begins teaching at Binghamton University, and Marisa Tomei as a single mother with whom the screenwriter finds romance. Considering that the main character is a screenwriter, we thought it would be appropriate to conduct a detailed analysis of the story in The Rewrite.
S P O I L E R S
Keith Michaels (Grant) is a divorced and depressed screenwriter whose only successful work was Paradise Misplaced, which won the Best Screenplay Award fifteen years ago. The film depicts Michaels’ scripts being rejected by a myriad of movie studio executives, the common theme being that Michaels is no longer relevant to a market looking for ‘female empowerment’. Rather like Michael Caine’s writer character in The Hand, Michaels in desperation accepts his agent’s suggestion to take up a teaching post to make ends meet.
Now, this is where there are leaps of logic that stretch incredulity. Michaels has sex with a college student, selects participants for his creative writing class purely based on looks and cynically informs his students that writing cannot be taught and thus he will not be conducting any classes whatsoever! Sure, these are all humorous aspects that build up Michael’s unlikeable personality but in reality, no teacher would be able to get away with such dereliction of duty! Sorry but this lack of any realism seriously threatens the suspension of disbelief very early on in the plot.
And while The Rewrite has been marketed as a romantic comedy, there isn’t really much romance in the film at all. Sure, the story establishes an attraction between Michaels and single mom Holly Carpenter – who is also one of his students (!) – but that relationship is never consummated – in the usual way – during the course of the film. Thus, the story lacks completion in an important way.
So what is Michaels’ dramatic need in The Rewrite, in the final analysis? To reconnect with his estranged son? Nope that does not really happen either. To hook up with Holly? Nope. To get one of his scripts accepted? Nada. No, in fact, the film would have us believe that in the course of all the hijinks – even with the lack of a narrative drive – Michaels somehow develops a love for teaching and comes to terms with his obsolescence in the Hollywood scheme of things to settle down as a teacher? All too convenient.
That all said, Grant and Tomei are dependable actors and manage to entertain the audience whenever they are on screen, especially together. Solid actors like JK Simmons and Alison Janney are absolutely wasted in their two-dimensional roles. The Rewrite is not a memorable film but good fun while it lasted.
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