The Red Right Hand

A Therapeutic New Comedy

Ben Younger
Meryl Streep
Uma Thurman
Bryan Greenberg

The new film from Boiler Room's Ben Younger leaves me worried for the state of the contemporary Romantic Comedy. This movie was marketed as a Comedy/Drama/Romance and tagged as 'a therapeutic new comedy.' The key word here being comedy; ha-ha-funny, understand? I'm condemning this film far too early but I promise you, I'm not passing final judgement just yet, please keep reading. What I was initially blaming as a marketing flaw (misleading us to believe the film is something it's not) is in fact a writing flaw. Younger doesn't really seem to know what genre he's shaping his product to be. The main character is advertised as Uma Thurman but due to her stereotypical attitude the only one who is remotely believable is Meryl Streep's character. But I'm getting ahead of myself, the film is based around a three minute cocktail party story of a psychoanalysts' 37 year old patient dating her son, who is 14 years her junior, all unbeknownst to each other. This style of comedy uses a device known as the ignorant/idiot plot; which is a plot device focusing on a group of people, creating strife and struggle amidst themselves because they can't see something staring them in the face. Sometimes these films work exceptionally well and often take comedic form, but this is only because when it's a serious matter it becomes frustrating and unrealistic. One of the key factors to the story is something that doesn't even come up in the trailer; religion. Suddenly a light-hearted comedic romance has turned into a debate of the importance of age and religion in a relationship. So, let's run through the plot again. Lisa Metzger [Streep] is a Jewish psychoanalyst. The only patient we ever see her with is Rafi Gardet [Thurman], a thirty seven year old divorcee - a lot of people complained about this, saying Uma Thurman is hardly 37 year old, but in all honesty she's 36, so the casting was fine. Lisa's son, David [Greenberg], is a budding artist (cue montages of blank canvases and exquisite works of art) but has no confidence or faith in his work. We don't know what his main job is, except for the odd hint, ie. it involves cutting large bits of wood, that he doesn't make enough to live in a decent place of his own but has enough swing to privately sneak off a Rothko piece for his own personal benefit.

The stereotypes are played on with little subtlety. Lisa is a tight-fisted, over analytical, highly strung, prejudice Jewish woman. Not being able to tell either her son or patient about the situation and connections could have been played on so much more than revealing sex/penis jokes. Rafi keeps saying what she needs from David in this relationship - things she didn't actually know ten minutes ago, at the start of the film - but because she needs them, it's agreed that David is too immature to give them to her. By the way, it's never really mentioned what these things are, but they're important! The plot follows the loose idea, set at the start, but due to the lack of comedy events (think the restaurant scene in Mrs. Doubtfire) it's difficult to describe the film's flow, as Rafi and David fall in and out of favour with one another. The whole religious pressure, introduced by Lisa, hangs over the plot but is never properly confronted. It's almost as if Younger wrote a conflict, didn't like it and avoided the whole issue for the rest of the film because everyone seems to get along so well.

I have to keep pausing. Sitting back from the keyboard for a few moments and breathing in a calm manner. I lower my head and support it with my hands. Run my fingers through my hair and say to myself, 'Just let it go.' You see, this film irritated me.. a lot. I hate it when people produce cliched dreck that categorises all human emotion and experience into the same Top 10 cheesy, escapist rom-com moments that women expect and demand (Calm down, Matt). Remember, I'm an open minded fellow. I'll watch any film at least once, but with every possible stereotype played on I found it difficult to know where the plot was going. This is going to spoil the end, so if necessary, please look away. The whole direction leads you to believe that the message behind the film is that love conquers all; as long as you're in love no difference in age, race or creed can come between you. You spend 80 minutes thinking they'll argue a bit but end up together, which (oddly enough) they don't. There's just a bit of a confusing ending, set one year later (it's always "One Year Later") when the two briefly catch each other's gaze and share a smile. Cue sappy montage entitled best moments of our relationship. The smile breaks, he walks off and the credits roll. I'm a logical, thinky kinda bloke (honest), if you present a scene with these two having sex saying 'I want to have a baby with you because it's what you want' and 'You don't have to, the fact that you're willing to offer is a great gift' or some mush followed by a brief smile outside a cafe you're asking your audience to write their own middle, make up their own mind - which is fine. But if you have a story that tries to say Love Conquers All, yet clearly doesn't by the end, you're sending out mixed messages. Is Younger trying to say that you try and try but no one can really overcome the obstacles before them? That it really was just a fling and they didn't mean that much to each other? That it was just the wrong time for both of them? Who knows? As I have been given permission to write my own ending I have done so, would you like me to share it with you? He gets her pregnant. They fight and split up. The baby is born but with super human powers!! They cannot kill nor abandon the baby, for in the wrong hands he would be a potential threat in years to come. So they journey to a remote place, high in the Tibetan mountains where he was raised as a super monk! Meanwhile, in New York, they see each other briefly and think back on their crazy voyage and smile. He turns and sets off to El Salvador, to lead the Government on a wild goose chase for their precious artefact child. Ah.... The End. If you do find yourself watching this film, I have a tip to help get you through - thanks, in part, to Mr. Wickham. After every line say to yourself, ' your pants.' May sound silly but it works for most poor films, feel free to try it but I must warn you that it is copyright to DNS Ltd.

Release Date:
13th May 2006

The Scene To Look Out For:
There's a typical cliche moment where David has a surprise for Rafi. SURPRISE!! It's a candle-lit dinner for two with an original 1958 Rothko piece on display, just for her! How did he get a hold of it? Who cares, all that matters is that he's so sweet. Absurd nonsense like this is littered throughout. For someone who wrote Boiler Room, a fairly powerful thriller, this is a major step backward, truly amateur stuff. Either that or the stupid, 'His beautiful penis' scene, who even says that? Honestly? Beautiful Penis!?

Notable Characters:
Let's go with David's friend, Morris [Jon Abrahams], who can't seem to get further than a first date and takes revenge by calling at their place and throwing pies in their face. He also wears t-shirts that say Jew York and Def Jew (in the style of Def Jam). He provided a bit of comic relief every now-and-then - which is odd as this is supposed to be a comedy

Highlighted Quote:
"The weird thing was that there was nothing in his bathroom. Just like, 20 boxes of Q-tips"

In A Few Words:
"Irritating and cliched. It wouldn't have been so bad if it didn't try to inject so much drama. The serious element just makes the undercutting comedy seem cheap"

Total Score:

Matthew Stogdon