Monday, October 05, 2015

“Maggie’s Plan”– Movie Review



At the 2015 New York Film Festival, I attended The United States Premiere of the new romantic comedy “Maggie’s Plan” starring Greta Gerwig, Ethan Hawke and Julianne Moore. 


After a woman decides to have a baby through a sperm donor, she falls in love with another man – but when she marries him following a divorce, is she living her dream or her nightmare? 


Finding herself single and childless in her early thirties, Maggie (Gerwig) decides it’s time to take control: despite the absence of a partner, she wants to have a child, so she searches for a sperm donor. Concentrating locally, she meets Guy (Travis Fimmel), a goofy Brooklyn entrepreneur who agrees to unconditionally contribute some DNA for her noble cause. After supplying him with all of the necessary legal paperwork, they schedule the drop-off of his donation. Before he can, however, Maggie runs into John (Hawke), a handsome professor who teaches at the college where Maggie works as an administrator – which also happens to be the same college where John’s wife Georgette (Moore) is a professor.

Gradually, Maggie and John start spending increasing amounts of time together, despite protestations of her friends, Tony and Felicia (Bill Hader and Maya Rudolph), who warn her that John has a reputation of being quite the lothario. Maggie comes to learn that despite John being married to Georgette for a long time and having children, he’s rather unhappy in his marriage. Georgette, it seems, is much more professionally successful than John and as such, he feels he’s become a substantially lower priority in her life. Now, he’s feeling lonely.

Guy finally delivers his contribution to Maggie – but just then, John visits; he confesses he’s in love with Maggie and wants to leave Georgette for her. Maggie succumbs and they enjoy a tryst, which results in her pregnancy; John and Georgette divorce so he can marry Maggie. Together, John and Maggie raise their daughter Lily – and sometimes, also get stuck with John’s children from his previous marriage when Georgette is out of town. Maggie realizes marriage – at least to John – is not all it’s cracked up to be, so she colludes with Georgette to get John to return to her. Initially outraged, Georgette really wants John and agrees to help lure him back. The scheme works as designed – but when John learns he’s been hoodwinked, how will this impact the two families?


“Maggie’s Plan” is a pleasant and enjoyable enough comedy, even if it is reminiscent of some of Woody Allen’s better work (which almost seems fitting since Gerwig herself is reminiscent of a young Diane Keaton).  While the plot may take some extremely clever twists and turns, it is more amusing than funny because the jokes don’t quite hit the bull's-eye with enough regularity (and for that matter, there may have been a few missed opportunities for more jokes).  The ending is somewhat satisfying, if a little contrived – it seems almost an after-thought since there was little earlier in the movie to set it up. 

Gerwig’s performance is the sweet and charming but kooky character those who admire her have come to know and love.  At times, Julianne Moore’s accent makes some of her dialog a little hard to comprehend.  Hader and Rudolph steal the movie with their bickering; perhaps a much better (and funnier) movie could have been made featuring their characters.  Hawke, on the other hand, is a bit difficult to buy as the combination intellectual and so-called “panty-melter” as Rudolph’s character describes him.  The young actress who plays Lily (the child’s first role) is absolutely adorable. 

Following the screening, there was a question and answer session with the movie’s director-writer Rebecca Miller and Gerwig.  Miller was asked what the biggest challenge was when it came to shooting in New York City; she replied the weather and the parking (especially the parking tickets).  Gerwig said the weather was particularly problematic because the picture was shot this past winter when we experienced a phenomenon known at The Polar Vortex; the first day of shooting took place in Manhattan’s Union Square Park and her face was freezing so badly from the cold, the make-up artist told her there was no make-up she could apply that would help her look any better. 

Maggie's Plan (2015) on IMDb

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