"The worst sort of bad movie, in that it's actually two bad movies in one."
Everyone has their own personal set of pet peeves. Most of mine are silly and inconsequential, but there's one that always sets my teeth on edge: Do NOT talk to me while I'm watching a movie! Ever! A good film will draw you in like a great novel that keeps you up two hours past your bedtime. Interruptions (even something stupid like "want popcorn?") invariably suck me right out of a story I'm hoping to get somewhat lost in. Alex and Emma eliminates the middle-man by interrupting itself about 25 times, and the result is as frustrating as it sounds.Through a series of paperthin plot contrivances found only in the laziest of lazy comedies, an author must finish his next novel within thirty days or get pummeled to death by loan sharks. In an effort to expedite the writing process, the author hires a court stenographer to transcribe the book as he presents it orally.
Forget the fact that this movie makes the writing process look simplistic and easy; forget the fact that the author is in the process of writing a novel so clichéd and trite that no publisher would EVER consider it; forget the fact that, despite there being two entire plot lines on display, next to nothing of interest happens for a full 89 minutes.
Alex and Emma is simply a bad, bad movie, and one that (sadly) comes from Rob Reiner. Reiner's had his small share of turkeys in his day (from North to The Story of Us) but neither of those reek of laziness like this one does. It wouldn't surprise me at all to learn that Reiner contractually owed Warner Bros. one more movie and they gave him a deadline on which to deliver it, thereby inspiring him to slap a piece together about a beleaguered writer who's forced to deliver some product in a hurry.
Since the "A" plot (author slowly falls for stenographer) is about as hoary a tale you'll ever see, we could perhaps look to story "B" for some entertainment value. Instead we're given the mousy Kate Hudson in an unending series of costume changes and arcane accents, as Sophie Marceau and David Paymer wander about aimlessly in period costumes. Seems our author's oh-so-artful tale of early century romance is only slightly more overused than Reiner's main plot.
So essentially what we have is two mini-movies wedged painfully together, neither of which could stand on its own. And to make things even more grating, each plot is forever being interrupted by the other. If Reiner's intent was to make both tales equally insufferable, he's done a bang-up job.
Luke Wilson mumbles and shuffles his way through a role he doesn't seem to be enjoying all that much while Hudson acts suitably perky and airy in all her various incarnations. Would that she were given something amusing to do, I suspect she'd have pulled it off. Such is not the case.As much as I hate to knock the guy who gave us The Princess Bride and Misery and When Harry Met Sally and This is Spinal Tap, I just have to wonder what's up with Rob Reiner these days. Doubtless the man has a few great movies left in him, which is what makes warmed-over pap like Alex and Emma all the more irritating.