Saturday 19 January 2019

Movie Review: I Could Never Be Your Woman (2007)

A standard romantic comedy, I Could Never Be Your Woman has plenty of incomplete ideas and is predictably unable to cobble together a decent package.

In Los Angeles, Rosie (Michelle Pfeiffer) is a television producer in her early forties, battling against her age and having conversations with Mother Nature (Tracey Ullman) about the natural order of things. Rosie is divorced from the still amiable Nathan (Jon Lovitz), and raising her precocious daughter Izzie (Saoirse Ronan), who is just entering puberty.

Rosie's tween-oriented female empowerment show You Go Girl is struggling in the ratings, but new young-ish actor Adam (Paul Rudd) has plenty of charisma and gives the show a big boost. Rosie and Adam are attracted to each other and start a relationship, but she is gravely concerned about the age difference between them. Rosie's snarky assistant Jeannie (Sarah Alexander) has her own eyes on Adam, while Izzie is experiencing her first crush on a boy at school.

From the clumsy title to Rosie's corny conversations with Mother Nature, the incessant inside-Hollywood satirical jabs, the flimsy basis for the central relationship and the overall shallow characters, most parts of I Could Never Be Your Woman demonstrate a smidgen of promise but then don't work so well. The film cannot shake the sense that writer and director Amy Heckerling, returning after a seven year hiatus, is trying too hard to assemble a hip movie out of inherently defective parts.

Despite offering a few good laughs, the movie too often busies itself taking cheap shots at the shallow youth-obsessed Los Angeles culture fueling the plastic surgery industry. The Mother Nature interludes are interruptive and mostly twee in tone rather than witty or profound. As a result insufficient time is invested in Rosie and Adam, and they remain stock characters with no meaningful arcs. While Pfeiffer at 49 is radiant playing a character nearly 10 years younger and Rudd adds plenty of amusing free-spirited energy, both deserved a better script.

Jeannie as the perfunctory antagonist suffers most, her character existing for the sole purpose of antagonizing the central romance. It is left to young Saoirse Ronan, in her film debut, to try and rescue proceedings, and she nearly pulls it off. Heckerling saves her best lines for Izzie's character, and while the precocious kid can be a tired cliche, Ronan adds sufficient budding maturity and a droll world weariness to make it work, in the process stealing every scene she's in.

I Could Never Be Your Woman was eventually released straight to DVD in most markets. It's not bad enough to have deserved such a fate, but it's still a film that misses too many of the simple targets it aims for.

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