It’s romcom 101: Hugh Grant as a washed-up, Oscar-winning scriptwriter who finds himself teaching university students in the unknown town of Binghampton after various failed attempts to restart his career. In his fourth collaboration with director Marc Lawrence (who also directed Music and Lyrics) Grant plays Keith Michaels, a troubled intellectual who finds himself lost in the turmoil of mortal life and a strange conflict between his broken self-esteem, his chauvinistic endeavors (he has an unhealthy taste for younger women) and the Jane Austen scholar, Mary Weldon, who wants him well and truly ousted from the university.
Helped along by a perplexingly forgiving mum/grad student/perhaps the only woman who doesn’t want to slap him, the film takes us through a journey with Michaels as he gets to grips with reality. Once again Grant falls into another perfect sleazebag role, reminding us of his once-beloved turn as the caddish Daniel Cleaver of Bridget Jones’ Diary. His attempt here however reeked of a contrived effort to unearth ‘golden-age Grant’. Watching his flustered englishman-abroad shtick played out for the tired routine it’s become boarders on subversive in its wit. His self-awareness is at times laughable.
Admittedly he can still deliver a line with a certain aplomb and generate the odd giggle which is remarkable considering the script which is at best describable as benign. However, even that considered and despite Grant’s best efforts, the film seemed totally aimless at times and its objective threadbare. The Rewrite is a step-up from Lawrence and Grant’s 2012 effort Did You Hear About the Morgans? but once again leaves viewers somewhat alienated by Grant’s auto-pilot caddish performance and wincing at a plot that quite simply fails to deliver.