Friday, June 24, 2016

Movie Review #443: "Maggie's Plan" (2016)

Movie"Maggie's Plan"
Director: Rebecca Miller
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 38 minutes
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Maggie thinks she has it all planned out. She has recently decided to become a mother through artificial insemination. Just as she puts this plan into action, she suddenly falls in love with a married writer named John (Ethan Hawke), breaking up his already strained marriage with university professor Georgette (Julianne Moore). Now after nearly three years of marriage, Maggie is starting to find that John is not the guy for her, and from there, hatches a new plan to reunite him with his ex-wife.

Written for the screen and directed by Rebecca Miller, "Maggie's Plan" is a quirky romantic dramedy starring indie hipster darling Greta Gerwig. Gerwig plays the titular Maggie, and as one might expect, she has many plans that she uses as a means to control her life. Her first plan is to have a child through artificial insemination. She wants the father of her child to be a guy named Guy, played by Travis Fimmel, who despite being college educated, chooses to make and sell pickles. This plan gets slightly derailed when Maggie falls in love with a married writer named John, played by Ethan Hawke. He is married to a tenured university professor named Georgette, played by Julianne Moore, who is one of the top professors in her field and is made out to be a bit of a witch by John. Of course, Maggie and John's affair destroys what little bit was left of his crumbling marriage, but the pair quickly turns around and marries each other. Now three years later, not only does Maggie have to take care of her own daughter (almost entirely by herself), but she's often left in a position by her husband where she has to care for her two stepchildren as well. She's also taking care of John as he is still trying to finish his book, in between long phone conversations with his ex-wife, of course. Maggie is starting to think she's made a big mistake. Now, after some innocent seeming words from her friend Felicia, Maggie hatches a new plan to get rid of John by trying to convince Georgette to take him back.

As you can see, "Maggie's Plan" is not your typical romantic comedy or drama. In fact, the entire thing is very much an anti-romantic comedy. Like many romances in movies, it all starts with an affair. However, unlike most movies, this one doesn't jump to the happily ever after. This one moves straight from Maggie and John's very first kiss and subsequent sexual encounter to the "hahaha, now you're the one who is married and miserable" plot line. It might sound bad for two people who are rather happily married to give a movie like this a good rating, but we so appreciate what it tries to do and say about love and romance by showcasing the messiness of it all instead of the princess fairytale bullshit we are fed in pop culture.

"Maggie's Plan" boasts an outstanding cast, containing many actors who are involved in both smaller, low budget films as well as big Hollywood productions. Greta Gerwig is no stranger to the intellectual, impassioned role. She plays the part of Maggie as well as she's played any other part, only this time around, we actually tolerated her and rather loved her performance. Hawke is always excellent, even when he plays the sleazy smart guy who is simultaneously charming but horrible. Fimmel as Guy is simply adorable, a goofy acting academic who stopped doing math to focus on being a pickle entrepreneur. He's worlds better here than he was in "Warcraft." Finally, Julianne Moore is in a class all her own. Her character Georgette is intimidating, scholarly, slightly cold, but also very warm and surprisingly forgiving and receptive to "the other woman" in Maggie. Her accent puzzled us momentarily, but she pulls it off with flying colors. Together, all of these characters interact with one another in this screwball indie romcom. Along with the aforementioned Gerwig, Hawke, Fimmell, and Moore, this movie also stars Bill Hader as Tony, and Maya Rudolph as his wife Felicia, who are Maggie's best friends. These actors play very well off each other and help breath life into this awkward style of comedy, though we expect no less from two seasoned Saturday Night Live veterans and resident indie movie actors themselves.

There is a lot of precision-point, extremely funny dialogue that goes on within the script, which is insightful, smart, and witty. It shows that even college educated people with advanced degrees can still make stupid decisions when it comes to life and love. As we mentioned, we appreciate this different point of view about modern love and relationships, but this is not the kind of movie for wide-eyed, idealistic lovers of love. "Maggie's Plan" will satisfy fans of Gerwig and her niche type of films, as well as romance cynics who just want to watch it all burn in a blaze of glory. We think the chemistry between everyone involved is pretty great, and we also like the direction by Rebecca Miller. All in all, we think this film is definitely worth watching if you appreciate different takes on all too familiar subjects.

My Rating: 8.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 85%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!
One year ago, we were watching: "The Impossible"

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