Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Last Chance Harvey

Illustration for article titled Last Chance Harvey

As baby boomers reach retirement age, we're bound to see a sharp uptick in romantic comedies about love amongst the AARP set. While it's always refreshing to see pop culture acknowledge that life does not end at 30, these films share a tendency to indulge in the kind of, "Aw, aren't old people adorable?" condescension that marred the recent documentary hit Young@Heart. The middling romantic comedy-drama Last Chance Harvey falls victim to this and it doesn't help that the film is a vehicle for Dustin Hoffman, who doesn't act in films these days so much twinkles. No matter how much abuse he endures, Hoffman retains a mischievous gleam in his eyes that says everything will be all right. Only Robin Williams can match Hoffman at his most oppressively twee for elfin man-child annoyance.

Here Hoffman plays a divorced jingle writer in the midst of a tardy mid-life crisis. With his professional life falling apart, Hoffman travels to England for the wedding of a daughter who makes it abundantly clear that she prefers rugged stepfather James Brolin to her black sheep of a biological dad. Hoffman's outsider status echoes the alienation of ennui-addled airport employee Emma Thompson, who feels out of place both with her much-younger friends and her much-older mother. After a few near-misses, these aging loners find each other and begin a tentative romance, but the clock is ticking.

Thematically Last Chance Harvey suggests both Rachel Getting Married and Before Sunrise. But unlike those films, it doesn't earn its joy or its pain. The ubiquitous tinkling of Dickon Hinchcliffe's manipulative score constantly telegraphs something touching, dramatic, and a little bit sad transpiring; instead of letting Hoffman and Thompson's chemistry-challenged romance play out in real time ala Before Sunrise, writer-director Joel Hopkins lazily piles on montages of his leads exchanging meaningful glances. If nothing else, Last Chance Harvey proves that you're never too old to be the subject of a zany trying-on-dresses montage, but considering the prestige of its leads, that's a minor victory at best.