Saturday, June 18, 2016

Maggie's Plan (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

Maggie's Plan

If there was ever a Woody Allen film not directed by Woody Allen, it is Rebecca Miller's "Maggie's Plan." This slick and folksy New York film, which goes down as easy as a Starbucks macchiato in Manhattan, features the often quirky Greta Gerwig as Maggie, a (once more) self-deprecating and hyper college-art administrator.

In the office, Maggie happens to bump into the intense and oddly handsome anthropology professor John (Ethan Hawke). The two strike up a friendship based on book conversations.

In the midst of this, Maggie attempts to secure a sperm donor from an earthy acquaintance who pickles, a taciturn guy named Guy (Travis Frimmel).

In the manner of many Allen films, Maggie and John grow closer. Maggie doesn't care so much about her insemination and John doesn't care so much about being married to the detached Georgette (Julianne Moore). SNL alumni Bill Hader and Maya Rudolph appear as a straight twosome to the frenetic Gerwig and Hawke.

While the initial domestic shenanigans may well be familiar, the characters are amusing and off-kilter just enough to make this comedy enjoyable and nearly madcap. The fun is in Maggie constantly second guessing herself with her unique staccato speech while John never has a clue what either he or Maggie really want.

Also helpful is the fact that this is not a steady comic piece throughout but rather the study of a relationship with all of its knots and bruises. One sees Maggie and John fall in love in a giddy arc. The chemistry felt is like a bolt of lightning.

Julianne Moore does an adequate job as a self-absorbed, professor guru, though her germanic accent is a bit forced and cartoonish, almost out of a Gothic romance.

Excluding this one reservation, the dialogue is sharply comic with a black laced edge of gallows humor. As in "Love & Friendship," "Maggie's Plan" is a film featuring a subversive young woman with a trick up her sleeve, albeit this time in a hipster's New York City, rather than an English manor.

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