Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Hope Springs (PG-13/100 Min.)


Here’s a good start to a blog post (picture that with the new sarcasm font). I’m pretty sure this review is going to suck pond water but I’m going to try anyway. Tonight I went to see the movie Hope Springs. I knew there were going to be uncomfortable and, more than likely, sad scenes due to what I saw in the trailers but it also made it look as if it might be somewhat funny. If you saw the trailers, that’s all the funny you’re gonna get.

Arnold and Kay are in a rut. Unfortunately, Kay is the only one of the couple who recognizes this fact. (I know couples like this. I’ve been part of a couple like this.) Kay cashes in one of her CDs and spends $4000 on a week of intensive marriage counseling. As you can imagine, being the clueless boy he is, Arnold is less than thrilled about this little surprise. The counseling is uncomfortable, to say the least. And if you’re thinking the title of the film gives anything away please note that Hope Springs only has to do with the name of the town through darn near most of the movie.

I saw this by myself, no surprise there, and there were parts I was a little uncomfortable with. It’s one thing to watch a movie in which a couple is having sex but this was on a completely different level. I’m not talking porn here, people. I’m talking the struggles of a couple who haven’t been intimate in nearly five years and are trying (at least one of them is) to find their way back. Oy!

Hope Springs starred Tommy Lee Jones as Arnold and Meryl Streep as Kay. As I’ve mentioned before, I kinda like Tommy Lee. There’s just something about him. I wasn’t feeling it as much in this movie though. He did too good a job at being the thoughtless, gruff, jerk of a husband. He seemed to only notice Kay when she put his food on the table or turned the TV off and sent him to bed…in a separate room. Or when she said or did something he didn’t approve of. He was very demeaning and I didn’t care much for him at all. Kay was basically there to keep him from being alone and self-dependent. He did actually put forth some effort at one or two points and I thought it was very sweet but until then I lost any fondness I previously had for Tommy Lee. Oh! And one scene alludes to the fact that it's not her, it's him but it NEVER explains why! So frustrating.

I’m not an overly huge fan of Meryl Streep. Yes. It’s true. I never have been. Do I hate her acting? Absolutely not. I think she’s a good actress. She’s just not someone for whose movie I’d line up. Wait. That’s not fair. I pretty much won’t line up for any movie unless there are fewer than 10 people in front of me. Back to Meryl. I think she did a great job in this. Kay mentions, in one of the counseling sessions, that Arnold never touches her. She meant more than the brief peck on the cheek as he’s walking out the door. He doesn’t hold her hand or hug her or make any of the little but oh-so-big gestures. The therapist told them he was giving them homework. They had to go back to their hotel and just hold each other for a while. Kay started to tear up and my heart broke for her. What must her life have been like if something that simple could make her cry? Oh wait. I’ve experienced that first hand. Maybe that’s why it hurt so much. Wow! Sorry for that brief confession. There were a few times when I wanted to just shake her because of all of the wishy washiness but mainly because I’ve been there too. I was that person. Yuck! I don’t like resembling characters in a movie unless they’re happy, beautiful, skinny people. True story. Let me [quickly] state for the record that as much as I’d like to blame everything on Arnold, he was not the only one at fault in the relationship.

Steve Carell was the therapist. I thought that with Steve in the movie it had to be funny. Right? Have you seen Dan in Real Life? Less funny than that. “You’re a murderer of love!!!” Sorry about that. Flashback to Dan. Steve just wasn’t funny. And he wasn’t supposed to be. It was so weird seeing him straight. You know what I mean. He was the cause of some of the more squidgy [for me] scenes. I can’t even begin to imagine being asked some of the things he was asking. Outside of a slumber party, I mean. I think I remember having one of those. Anyway, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if real therapists ask questions like that in which case it doesn’t make me question that you hear about so many couples (or parts of a couple) who don’t want to go to counseling. I think I’d be all, “That is SO none of your beeswax!” Or something a little more adult.

There is absolutely no reason to take a child to see this movie. There is absolutely no reason a child would want to see this movie. It’s just not a very good idea. Despite that, I’m going to break it down for you.

Sex/Nudity – No nudity but at least one attempt at sex and one success. Just keepin’ it real here. There’s also a self-help scene and a very sad-attempt-at-a-movie-theater scene. This film may be about couples’ therapy but it seemed that the basis of it was sex.

Cussing/Cursing – Not much cussing but quite a bit of cursing. What’s the difference? Well, in my world cursing involves God and they involve God and Jesus often in Hope Springs. I am happy to say that while cussing doesn’t affect me as much as it should, cursing most certainly does. There is absolutely no place for it in any movie.

Drinking/Drugs – There was a bar scene in which Kay had a couple glasses of wine and something a little stronger. I didn’t catch what it was. Kay and Arnold shared wine and champagne at the hotel.

Violence – Just violence of emotions. No one was struck or intentionally hurt physically. That’s all I’m gonna say about that.

Intense Scenes – Of a sort. As mentioned previously, I’ve seen sex scenes before but what they showed here seemed as if we were being let in on something extremely private and personal. I felt like a voyeur. Not a very good feeling.

I spent my [five minute] drive home trying to figure out who I would recommend this movie to. Should I recommend this to perfectly happily married couples so they can look at it and laugh that they have it so much better? No. What if it brought up an inkling of a doubt? I don’t want that on my conscience. Should I recommend it to couples who are likewise in a rut? I’m not sure. If it would open some eyes then I say, “Yes! Go see this movie and mend your apathetic/lackadaisical ways!” If it would cause more hurt in one or both members of the couple then I say, “Please stay away unless you think it’ll make you feel better knowing that someone out there understands.” I am going to totally ruin this and tell you that it does end well but the getting there was as painful for me as it was for the characters. Almost anyway. All the happy in Hope Springs happens in the last few minutes and the credits. I’m not sure the hour-and-a-half of drama and hopelessness was worth it. If you’re thinking of going to see this alone…don’t! Drag a friend along with you. It’s got to be less depressing to have someone there to share in the experience. I hope.

P.S. Hope Springs was brought to you in part by: Coldwater Creek, Barnes & Noble, Sprite, lots and lots of liquor (I couldn’t read the labels), EconoLodge, Dr. Pepper, French’s Mustard (I recognized the bottle but didn’t see the label), ESPN, Dasani and last, but not least, Coca-Cola. I think I’ve figured out where they got the funding for this movie.

P.P.S. Looking at the movie poster I have to comment on a couple of things. "A comedy by the director of The Devil Wears Prada". I want to know who thought this was funny. If it was you...okay then. And then, "Fall in love again this August." This makes me think of movies like You've Got Mail or Sleepless in Seattle where it's a cotton candy kind of romantic story. This movie? Not so much.

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