|Though true fans of romantic comedy may have their hearts won over by the close of this film, many viewers may reach the credits wondering why Alex & Emma isn't a more funny and more moving experience. The majority of the minutes in this film are spent in dialogue that usually doesn't cause the viewer to erupt in anything more than a mild chuckle. Much of the dialogue gives one a chance to wonder why something wittier wasn't written. Well, scratch that. The real problem in Alex & Emma isn't the dialogue. Because some of it is lively enough.|
But it's hard to think that the dialogue alone could sustain the interest of the viewer for the feature's full running time. Although Luke Wilson and Kate Hudson do have a modicum of romantic chemistry with one another, it's difficult to view this film as simple romantic fluff as the chemistry isn't always energetic enough. The overly stereotypical costuming of Kate Hudson's character aside, the movie doesn't reach enough highs or lows on the proverbial spectrum to really engage the viewer's heart or mind. While there are a few comedic remarks uttered by each of the main characters, those remarks have the ability to elicit but a mild chuckle from the viewer.
There is a scene near the end of the film where some genuine excitement occurs, but it seems so totally out of place with the rest of the story that it seems thrown in, "just because." It's as if the filmmakers realized mid-way through the production that they needed to raise the stakes for the characters. This being because there wasn't enough drama to sustain the film (and retain viewers) until its conclusion. Although the sticky-sweet love story played rather well in spots, the film suffered from a lackluster script where there were too few innovative pieces of dialogue and too many "been there, heard that" conversations.
It's a difficult task to take the viewer of a romantic comedy in a direction he or she hasn't traveled before, because there have been literally thousands of romantic comedies that have already unspooled in the last one-hundred years. But all it takes is one aspect of a film to make it memorable. But neither the dialogue nor the story are peppered with enough verbal gems. The comedy is funny, but it's not hilarious. The jokes are filled with mirth, but not overflowing with it. The chemistry between the characters is present, but not palpable.
The story has some inklings of creativity (the plot itself is original, it's just not carried out with enough zeal), but the whole escapade falls somewhat flat. It's not exactly like a can of warm Dr. Pepper, but there are very few bubbles of interest to keep the viewer's attention until the credits roll. The disappointing thing about Alex & Emma is the lack of energy present from a cast and crew who have, in their prior films, displayed such talent. The casting director must have been operating under the assumption that the abilities of the actors would have made a sufficient dent in the dusty script.
Interestingly, the advertisements for this film felt it appropriate to mention that the director, Rob Reiner, directed When Harry Met Sally. Suffice it to say there is no comparison between the two. Although each film belongs to the same genre (romantic comedy), Alex & Emma should come with a disclaimer that explains that the romance isn't always romantic and the comedy isn't always funny. While a romantic comedy can exist as pure entertaining fluff, there still needs to be a believable and serious love story that shows up somewhere beneath that fluff.
While die-hard fans of this genre might enjoy some sequences in this film, it's definitely not worth the time and energy it would take to see this in the theater. Even making the trip to the video store (for a cheaper viewing of the film) might prove too much of an effort. Though if you happen to see Alex & Emma on your local television listings, viewing it from the comfort of your couch (with remote in hand), might just do the trick. Having those other channels available for channel surfing during the dead spots just might make the whole experience a more smooth endeavour.
Review by Kelsey Wyatt.