There is something about the relationship between parent and child when both are adults. My daughter is over 21 years old and when she tells me about a date I still want to cover my ears and go ‘la, la, la, la’ so I can’t her. The rational part of my mind tells me she is a young woman but I still view her has that little girl that held my hand crossing the street. This dilemma is elevated to the nth degree for therapist Lisa Metzger (Meryl Streep). It seems that Lisa has a patient, Rafi Gardet (Uma Thurman) who has entered into a new relationship with a much young man, David Bloomberg (Bryan Greenberg). She is 37 he is 23. There is also the matter of different religions; he is Jewish while she is a gentile divorcee. All of that is eclipsed by the earth shaking sex the couple enjoys. Rafi goes on and on about how, where and for how long they manage to engage in intimacy. Any therapist is used to sexual talk during a session but when Lisa discovers that the young stud in question is actually her own son the parental genes kick in and she is mortified. Lisa goes to her own therapist, Rita (Madhur Jaffrey). Now Lisa is not only mortified by her son’s sexual escapades but also that he is not interested in a nice Jewish girl. Rafi is not unaware of the problems inherent in a May-December relationship. David is a typical early twenties man, his apartment is unkempt; he overly enjoys video games and hanging out with his friends and dwelling on wanting to be a painter. Further showing how much David as to mature is his choice in friends. His best firend, Morris (Jon Abrahams), is a complete misogynistic with the nasty habit of throwing pies in the face of women that will not sleep with him. Considering Morris’ total lack of depth the local pie shop owner must be able to afford that new home by now. Rafi, on the other hand is a lapsed Catholic, recently divorced and feeling the approach of her fortieth birthday. She overlooks David’s juvenile side because she is desperate for passion in her life. She also finds someone to care for in David. She pays his bills, lets him move out of his grand parents and into her posh apartment with her and generally allows him to live off of her. Now you would think that any young man would want a sugar momma that looks like Uma Thurman but for David the fall out with his family is the real downside.
The film does move on from what could have been a one note story. While the central plot remains the conundrum that Lisa faces, being a good Jewish mother versus being a professional therapist, the movie does expand to look at relationship in broader strokes. Rafi is reacting to the dissolution of a nine year marriage. She has a career as a stylist and is making a good living apart from her ex but she needs a man in her life to feel complete. Personally, I kept hoping that Ms Thurman still had her sword from Kill Bill and would take it out and tell David to get a life and get a job. My daughter collects swords and more than once I hoped she would take a nice board sword on dates. David suffers from a common plight, over protection. As parents we want to make sure our children are safe and secure but if we go over board on this they are ill equip to face the realities of life on their own. David is too used to being cared for by older women, his grandmother, mother and now Rafi. Lisa is caught between her maternal and professional side and risks her standing in both aspects of her life by trying to sabotage the relationship.
What really sells this movie is the two talented actresses in the leads. After all has there ever been a really bad film with Meryl Streep? Ms Streep is a force of nature with any role she takes on. While this one is lighter and sillier than most of her past characters her talent makes it work. The audience can not only believe the conflict Lisa is feeling but become emotionally invested in her. Streep can handle the dichotomy between Lisa the Jewish mother and Lisa the therapist balancing the two sides of one person and letting us feel for both. This role also affords Streep the opportunity to show off her talent in facial expressions. As Rafi talks about the most explicated details of her love making with David you can see the pain and discomfort grow on Lisa’s face. I don’t think that there is a role that Uma Thurman can not take on. She can be an action star covered in blood or the overly sexual wife of a famous author. Thurman has an innate ability for comedy, rare for someone with such cover girl looks. There is great chemistry between Thurman and Streep that all but saves the film. Unfortunately this chemistry does not extend to scenes with Bryan Greenberg. He just falls short especially opposite two such seasoned actresses. His previous work was mostly on television series such as ‘One Tree Hill’ and that venue jut didn’t prepare him as the male lead in this film. He does not make the same emotional connection with the audience so as we watch we cannot help but to not like him.
Writer/Director Ben Younger hit the scene in 2000 with the vastly different film ‘The Boiler Room’. Doing such a tense film like that requires a different approach that a light romantic comedy. Here he loses control in the last act of the film. The opening and discovery phase is almost flawless but once the secret is out the film flounders. He does get more out of the premise that I initially thought possible. What is left is an enjoyable film that falls short of being a classic in the genre. The operative word here is enjoyable. This is still a good flick to watch with some friends but make sure any of your adult children are not present.
The film is brought to DVD by Universal and they do a great job of mastering. The anamorphic 1.85:1 video is very good. The color palette is realistic without any bleeding of the colors. The contrast is good but there are few scenes that would actually challenge this aspect of the presentation. The Dolby 5.1 audio works well but typical of this genre there is little real need of the rear speakers except for ambience. The front channel separation is better than average. The commentary track features director Ben Younger and producer Jennifer Todd. It is a little technical with some inside jokes. Also provided are some deleted scenes and outtakes. The latter are funny and worth a viewing. Over all this is a good film for an evening of pizza with some friends.