A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Rewrite, a romantic comedy set on a college campus, finds a callow Hollywood screenwriter (Hugh Grant) on the road to redemption when he's forced to take a teaching position in New York. His mostly off-camera sexual relationship with a young female student is a key plot element; they kiss and appear in bed after their initial sexual encounter. There are lots of stereotypes (an austere English professor, nerdy young men, phony Hollywood execs, a "Jewish princess," a gloomy depressive), but they're at least somewhat rescued by good performances and wry humor. Characters drink alcohol; the main character admits he drinks too much. There are two references to marijuana. In the aftermath of a school party, a young male with alcohol poisoning is taken away in an ambulance; he quickly recovers. The film includes a few obscenities ("ass," "crap," and one "f--k"). Solid messages about redemption and appealing characters help the movie feel wholesome in spite of its sexual content and collegiate antics.
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What's the story?
Hollywood has made life miserable for screenwriter Keith Michaels (Hugh Grant) in THE REWRITE. He hasn't had a hit movie in years, not since he won an Academy Award for Paradise Misplaced, a beloved film. Keith is desperate to change his reputation as a "one-hit wonder" but also afraid of hitting bottom if he doesn't get a paying job soon, so when his dedicated agent encourages him to take a teaching position at Binghamton University, Keith agrees ... but just until he sells something. At first the only positive aspects of Binghamton for this boorish screenwriter (who has a penchant for objectifying women) are the beautiful young coeds. They pique his interest, and he immediately finds himself in bed with one of the most beautiful. He also makes sure that only the prettiest of young things -- and a few male nerds -- enroll in his screenwriting class. But meeting adult student Holly Grant (Marissa Tomei) and getting in trouble after immediately insulting one of the stars of the English Department (Allison Janney) complicate the situation, as does an awareness that Keith's newfound sex partner/student is off limits to her professor. What began as a self-serving lark turns into something else entirely, and it isn't long before Keith finds out that teaching, connecting with students in an authentic way, and making valuable relationships may bring him more than just a salary and some unearned prestige.
Is it any good?
Some very good writing and comic moments, along with actors who charm their audience and seem to enjoy themselves, lift this otherwise predictable film to the "plus" level. There's not a surprising moment or even a fresh character, but somehow it works. Grant's usual rumpled, slightly stammering naughty-boy routine is effective. You root for him even though he's a jerk. Tomei sparkles in her role as a tireless, wise, devoted single mom. And the fine actors playing members of Binghamton's faculty are solid. In addition, the movie's messages, while conventional, are delivered with unexpected flair. And, despite the sexual nature of some of the plot contrivances (and one use of "f--k"), the movie has a wholesome feel, making it a lighthearted, satisfying experience for teens.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about redemption movies. What are they, and why are they so appealing?
Which characters in The Rewrite would you consider to be cliches or stereotypes? How did the director make these characters likeable in spite of the fact that you've seen them many times before?
The film quotes Yoda (from Star Wars): "Try not. Do or do not. There is no try." Explain this statement. Have you found this to be a valuable message? Give some examples.
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