https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=9276&reviewer=293

Hope Springs (2004)

Reviewed By MP Bartley
Posted 04/23/04 02:13:30

"A Charm-free Zone"
1 stars (Total Crap)

How much effort does it take to make an effective rom-com these days? Too much apparently.

I mean, come on it can't be too hard. Get a bright, breezy script, direct with a lightness of touch and get a couple of appealing leads with chemistry. It's not asking too much is it? It's not asking to recreate the crucifixion or conjure up Middle world warfare between an army of 200,000 orcs and men. Really, putting together a half decent rom-com should be pretty low on a film-makers list of difficult tasks.

'Hope Springs' however, is proof that perhaps it is more difficult than we thought. Or perhaps it's sheer "will this do?" laziness.

'Hope Springs' is the story of a struggling artist (Colin Firth) who escapes a horrible ex, Vera (Minnie Driver) by going to Hope Springs for a commission from the mayor (Oliver Platt). There, he meets free spirited carer Mandy (Heather Graham) and then a lot of boring events happen in exactly the way you predict, in the most obvious order they could happen until you reach the climax that a 6 year old could have guessed.

So as scripts go, it's no 'Memento' then. It's no 'Annie Hall' either, and it's difficult to remember a script so lethargic, so dull, so low on passion, events or interest. But then, what do you expect from a film starring Colin Firth?

I'm sorry ladies but I don't get it. What is the appeal about Colin Firth? Isn't he the least charismatic, dullest, most unappealing, blandest leading man around? (And I say leading man with tongue firmly lodged in cheek). He's so wooden you could cut him into several strips and make a nice garden chair out of him. He looks so uncomfortable and so utterly charmless, he looks like he's arrived on set to get a boil lanced.

Heather Graham is similarly woeful. In her first scenes she practically downs a bottle of whiskey, removes her clothes, shags Firth and then bursts into tears because of it. And she is our heroine, our romantic lead in the films world. Well in my world, that's the sign of the mentally disturbed.

Minnie Driver tries her hardest as the ex with a plan to get Firth back, but despite her best efforts her character never advances past 'bitch who smokes'. Platt manages to get in a few half chuckles as the egotistical mayor, but when Oliver Platt is the best thing in your movie...you've a big problem.

Apart from the corners of my mouth twitching a couple of times when Platt was on screen, there was a Welsh family tree joke that actually made me think 'heh, funny'. Apart from that, the only thing springing from me was the hope that the projector would burst into flames and save me form this dull waste of time. Or failing that, the hope that I would burst into flames. Now THAT would be interesting.

© Copyright HBS Entertainment, Inc.