There’s a terrific comedy buried somewhere in the 105 minutes of “Prime.” It’s the sort of film that begs for the chapter select feature in DVDs. In a theater, this option is sadly unavailable.Writer-director Ben Younger (“Boiler Room”) comes up with some decent banter, but he has little idea of what makes for interesting footage. Casting Uma Thurman as a 37-year-old divorcee named Rafi and Bryan Greenberg as her 23-year-old lover David was a decent choice. Unfortunately, Younger seems to think that having an attractive couple groping is all that is required for compelling on-screen romance.
Viewers get to spend time watching David having a one-night-stand with a dopey alcoholic model (is this a plot point or just wishful thinking?) and to observe Rafi’s stereotypical gay friends. Little of this is involving either. Worse, David has an obnoxious best friend (Jon Abrahams), who’s more annoying than amusing.
Most of “Prime” comes off as a meandering mess. But whenever Meryl Streep strolls onto the screen, the wit and energy level increase exponentially. She plays, Lisa, Rafi’s supportive therapist.
Lisa inadvertently discovers that David, who happens to be her son, is the light of Rafi’s life. Initially thinking that Rafi and David are having a temporary fling, Lisa continues to treat her and winds up paying a steep price. After years of telling David to settle down and marry a fellow Jew and telling Rafi to explore her libido, she now gets to hear shockingly graphic descriptions of her son’s anatomy.
Streep expertly conveys Lisa’s suppressed horror and curiously has better chemistry with Thurman than Greenberg does. “Prime” might have worked better as a one-act play set entirely in Lisa’s office.
All of the film’s vitality resides here.For the most part, we get lots of redundant shots of Thurman and Greenberg making cow eyes at each other, and these are repeated in flashback for those who missed them earlier.