Alex & Emma Reviews
For a film that follows a supposedly brilliant writer, the movie has a significant amount of badly written scenes. One early exchange between Alex and Emma shows off how manufactured the dialogue is. "Here's what I figured. You've got exactly 8 words so far. Since a typed page is 350 words, that's roughly six weeks per page. With one week off for Christmas, two weeks summer vacation, three hundred pages would take approximately 37 years which quite frankly, is a little more than I'm willing to allocate to this project." Now, if Emma was some kind of mathematical genius sure, she might be able to put that math together AND write up that nice speech to deliver it to Alex but as is, it just shows that this was a bit of math and dialogue the writer was so proud of he couldn't let it go even though it doesn't fit the character at all. The bad writing isn't limited to the dialogue either. As the novel is being written anyone watching the movie will be able to recognize how bad it is, with little character development, constantly changing plot elements and the nanny character who changes nationality every couple of days. You would think that this writer, so good that his editor is willing to pay $125,000 for any manuscript he produces would be somewhat of a professional. Yet he's constantly changing his mind on what his characters should be, making last second re-writes and never has any idea where the novel he is writing is going.
The film is extremely predictable and does nothing new with the romantic comedy genre. From the get-go, you can tell that these two characters aren't going to like each other but will in time, fall in love. This isn't a spoiler, what else can you expect from a film who's title is as bland as "Alex & Emma"? It's just the names of the two main characters, no creativity whatsoever. Emma is attractive but clumsy and has those quirky character traits that give off the illusion of character development without actually telling you anything about her. Two examples come to mind: She can't stand tomato skins and likes to read the ending of the book first, then decide if she wants to read the rest of the story based on wether or not she liked the end. These are nice, safe flaws. Nothing that would actually make you think the woman is unlikeable, but enough to create a scene where Alex expresses a slight dislike for her. As for Alex, we're told that he likes to gamble and writes. We can also assume that he's totally irresponsible, with the enormous debt that he's accumulated and the totally derelict apartment that he's living in but hey, Luke Wilson is a handsome guy so that means all he needs is a woman to come and clean him up a little! I found it incredibly ironic that Alex describes his novel by saying "This isn't a comic book, it's a novel. There's character development. Symbolism. Subtext." Going past that idiotic statement I found it very ironic that this exchange of dialogue was present in a film that contains no character development, symbolism or subtext.
Despite the fact that Alex has to finish a novel in 30 days there is never any sense of urgency. With only a few days left the two characters decide to just leave their work behind and go on a date, apparently assuming that the very first draft of the novel is going to be good enough to print and completely ignoring the fact that a large chunk of the text is missing. There is a scene about halfway through the film where Emma trips and drops a significant amount of the text in a puddle of water. Because earlier in the film Emma had a significant amount of complaints about the story you think this is going to be a significant plot point. Will it turn out that Emma is actually going to be the talent behind the book when she re-writes the lost text? Will a rift be created between the two when ALex realizes how careless she's been? I mean his life is literally on the line here! Oh wait, no that isn't the case. It's just a setup for a lame joke as Emma fills in the missing pages with a brief resume of what she remembers happened. It's a pointless scene.
The main characters actually don't share that much screen time in the end because so much of the film is dedicated to the novel's plot. It feels like the only reason Luke Wilson and Kate Hudson are playing characters in the novel is so the audience can believe that the two are getting closer together and the romance at the end won't come out of nowhere. The final shot of the film feels like someone beating you over the head and shouting: you see! it's love! The bottom line is the movie is predictable, it's not very funny, there's no chemistry between the leads and the writing is bad. What is there left that can be good in the film? Not much. (Full-screen theatrical version, July 27, 2013)