Not Quite Ready For Prime Time

Columbus Alive | October 31, 2005
The title of Boiler Room writer/director Ben Younger’s new film apparently refers to the sexual maturity of its two leads—that is, they’re both in their respective sexual primes. The movie itself, however, seems way past its prime and into middle age, as it suffers from some sort of identity crisis. Half the time it thinks it’s just your run-of-the mill infantile romantic comedy, and the other half it thinks it’s a grown-up May-December romance.

Uma Thurman plays a 37-year-old recent divorcee who’s being wooed by 23-year-old artist Bryan Greenberg. The two have a brief courtship, discovering their age difference rather quickly, but continue to fall in love regardless. Thurman is egged on by her therapist, with whom she shares intimate details of her sex life (including the fact that her young lover’s penis is so beautiful that she wants to knit it a little hat).

Meanwhile, Greenberg’s mother is not only opposed to her son dating an older woman, but is opposed to her son dating a gentile, and refuses to meet her. The therapist and the mother are, in a wacky coincidence, the exact same woman, Meryl Streep. Hilarity ensues, mostly in the form of Streep’s reaction shots to Thurman telling her things about her son’s penis.

This is actually a very small part of the overall story and, in fact, seems like a different movie entirely, as if Thurman’s character wanders out of Prime and into a different movie theater when going to meet with her therapist. The romance between Thurman and Greenberg, shown from their initial meet-cute to the inevitable end, garners most of the running time, and is all played incredibly straight.

It’s fairly well done, but the strange tonal shifts from the melodrama and occasionally dry humor of their relationship to the rom-com nuttiness of the Streep bits is incredibly jarring. Prime is a romantic comedy that could actually benefit from being a lot dumber than it is.

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