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Alex and Emma

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Alex and Emma

Starring: Kate Hudson, Luke Wilson
Director: Rob Reiner
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 100 Minutes
Release Date: June 2003
Genres: Comedy, Romance

*Also starring: Sophie Marceau, David Paymer, Alexander Wauthier, Rip Taylor, Jordan Lund, Lobo Sebastian, Chino XL, Cloris Leachman, Robert Costanzo

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

In ALEX AND EMMA, by director Rob Reiner (WHEN HARRY MET SALLY...), Luke Wilson is a writer with a big block who hires Kate Hudson, a gal who always reads the last page first to see if she wants to read the book, to be his stenographer. As Alex and Emma, they make a cute couple in a romantic comedy that's heaviest on the comedy until the romantic ending that is lightly sweet and never cloying.

Wilson does his best work ever, and Hudson, who is her usual charming self, has been terrific in everything but her badly miscast role in THE FOUR FEATHERS. She always has great chemistry -- with the camera and the audience. Her leading men keep ending up like puppy dogs basking in her glow.

The story's central conceit is a beaut. Alex has just thirty days to complete his novel and earn his fee or a couple of unsavory characters that he calls the "Cuban Mafia" will kill him. Since they torched his computer, he hires a very reluctant Emma to go every day to his seedy Boston apartment and take his dictation. His start of eight words in five hours isn't promising. Alex's last novel, "Love is Always Having to Say You're Sorry," was about the fear of commitment. His latest will turn out to be about the fear of intimacy. As he dictates, she argues. She complains that his lead character, Adam, is too shallow. Although he maintains nominal control, Emma asserts herself so much that he begins to change the novel whenever she grumbles.

The picture's laughs are generated not only in Alex's apartment but also in the fancy country house back in 1924 where, in the story within the story, the poor Adam is attempting to win the heart of the wealthy Polina (Sophie Marceau), who has hired him to tutor her children. Adam also has a developing relationship with the family au pair for Polina's kids. The au pair starts off as the Swedish Ylva, but Adam changes her to the German Elsa since "Swedes have no edge -- you know they have that light blue flag." Not happy with Elsa, he swaps her for the Spanish Eldora and finally for the American Anna. As you can undoubtedly guess, Wilson plays Adam and Hudson plays all versions of the au pair.

The story within the story is quite slapstick. Polina and Adam share one of the best sex scene spoofs in recent history. After literally banging the wall -- all well within the film's PG-13 boundaries -- they collapse onto the bed, drenched in buckets of sweat. You may not break a sweat laughing during the movie, but you'll have a lovely time and leave with a contented smile.

ALEX AND EMMA runs 1:40. It is rated PG-13 for "sexual content and some language" and would be acceptable for kids around 9 and up.

Copyright 2003 Steve Rhodes

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