Warner Bros. // 2003 // 96 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Erin Boland (Retired) // December 18th, 2003
"Adam Shipley had given up on love. Art was to be his mistress. And so it was that in the summer of 1924, he took a sabbatical from Andover to write, if not the Great American Novel, certainly something that would make the world sit up and take notice." -- Alex Sheldon (Luke Wilson)
Alex and Emma is a cute little romantic comedy. I was debating whether I really wanted to see it (since romantic comedies are rarely hit and more often miss), but in the end I was glad I did. Director Rob Reiner did a good job bringing the world of F. Scott Fitzgerald to life. (Okay, so this isn't based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's works, but Alex's novel is has a very similar feel, both in themes and in setting. It's just too bad we know there is going to be a happy ending.)
Under threat of death from some Cuban loan sharks, Alex Sheldon (Luke Wilson, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, Legally Blonde) must publish his newest novel in thirty days. The problem: he hasn't started.
Adam decides to hire Emma Dinsmore (Kate Hudson, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Almost Famous) as a stenographer to type the novel for him. He finds out that Emma is exasperating, opinionated, and surprisingly enough, inspiring.
Alex and Emma is an interesting movie. In addition to being a cute little romantic comedy, it's also a dissection of the way a writer writes. As far as the romantic comedy bit goes, there isn't really much to say about the movie. Both Hudson and Wilson are cute together and have believable chemistry for the most part. Alex and Emma fills out the romantic comedy recipe very well.
A more interesting way to look at the movie is as a dissection of the way a writer writes. While Alex dictates to Emma, he insists that he has no plan whatsoever for the novel and the characters will take him where they want to go. This is very obvious in the Ylva/Elsa/Eldora/Anna character that Kate Hudson plays in the 1924 fairy-tale setting. Even more entertaining is the way that the story unfolds, both in the present and in 1924. As the movie proceeds, we not only find out more about the triangles between Adam Shipley, Polina Delacroix (Sophie Marceau, The World is Not Enough), but we also find out about Adam's past and why two Cuban loan sharks are trying to kill him.
Overall, the performances were excellent. Kate Hudson made excellent transitions between Ylva, Elsa, Eldora, Anna, and Emma. She and Luke Wilson shared excellent chemistry, and Luke managed to keep himself involved, but distant enough that we keep wondering about Polina -- whether or not she was real, and if she was, when she would spring out of the woodwork. Alex and Emma is a cute little story about the hopelessness of love, two people getting to know one another, and the way a writer writes. It succeeds in all these ventures but doesn't pretend to be anything intellectually stimulating, which is good, since it isn't. It is, though, the perfect movie for a night with the girls and a couple of mudslides or daiquiris.
The video and audio quality on the DVD were very striking. Colors were true and shots were very well put together. I would have preferred that more of the story was told in the 1920s setting instead of Adam's rather visually dull apartment, but this is just a minor complaint. The soundtrack for the film had a quite excellent blend of jazz music (though some of it may have been a bit anachronistic) and was quite clear through the entire film. This DVD was rather lacking in the extras department. It contained only the original theatrical trailer and a commentary with Luke Wilson and Rob Reiner.
Unless you really like romantic comedies, or The Great Gatsby, do not buy this DVD, rent it.
As a DVD, Alex and Emma is guilty as charged. Warner is slapped on the hand and told that they should know better. (At least give us some outtakes or some deleted scenes.) As a movie, Alex and Emma is reluctantly free to go, and go fast, before the "cuteness" makes me vomit.
Review content copyright © 2003 Erin Boland; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Commentary with Rob Reiner and Luke Wilson
* Theatrical Trailer
* Official Site