Director Marc Lawrence’s 2014 film, The Rewrite see Hugh Grant play an Oscar-winning screenwriter whose career is in a downward spiral. He takes a job teaching creative writing at an upstate New York university but he gets off to a shaky start when he beds one of his students before he even enters the classroom. His unconventional teaching techniques put him at odds with his superior (Allison Janney). Along the way he forms a friendship with Marisa Tomei, a mature student taking his class.
This is Hugh Grant’s fourth teaming with director Lawrence following Two Weeks Notice, Music and Lyrics, and Did You Hear About the Morgans?. It’s much better than those movies, however it failed to make a fraction of their box office, showing that audiences and film distributors often get it wrong.
Grant may be a limited actor with just two acting styles – bumbling romantic idiot and bumbling romantic cad (he plays the latter here) but he plays them well. He knows how to make this sort of material work, upping it when it verges on cliche. Lawrence surrounds Grant with an impressive supporting cast, with J.K. Simmons and Chris Elliot joining the aforementioned Tomei and Janney.
While The Rewrite may sound like a generic romantic comedy, Lawrence brings an independent sensibility to the film on a visual level. It’s as if he’s exorcising his romantic comedy past, looking to a future of weightier material. That may or may not come to pass, but at least he’s attempting to change his visual language.
The Rewrite may not rewrite the romantic comedy genre but it’s an enjoyable comedy with a great lead role from Hugh Grant. It’s not one of Hugh Grant’s most financially successful films – but it is one of his best.