The Barenaked Archives – Prime

From 2003 up until 2007, I was lucky enough to have “movie reviewer” as my job description. As such, I’ve built up a *lot* of reviews for just about every movie that came out during those years, as well as reviews of classic movies.

The Barenaked Archives are reviews that I did for two previous websites. Sadly, they are both gone, so this is now the only place online you can see these old columns.

PrimeYou know, the advertising really is paramount in making a movie. Granted, it doesn’t come till the end, but it’s how you get the word out, how you make sure people know what kind of movie they’re getting themselves into. A good ad campaign that correctly captures the movie will hopefully result in a whole slew of people showing up opening weekend, and then getting word-of-mouth to do the rest.

A bad ad campaign, on the other hand, either doesn’t get the word out enough or completely mislabels the movie it’s promoting, resulting in people thinking they’re going in to watch, say, a mindless romantic comedy and instead walking into a movie that’s a pretty straightforward dissection of a relationship with very little saccharine sweetness.

Given the amount of bitching I do about the paint-by-numbers romantic comedies Hollywood churns out on a frighteningly regular basis, you’d think something like Prime would’ve been more appealing. The problem is that walking in unhappily expecting one thing and getting something else is not nearly as pleasant a surprise when the something else really doesn’t work.

In Prime, Rafi (Uma Thurman) is a recent divorcee who’s just started dating David (Bryan Greenburg), a very hot, very young artist. Fourteen years her junior, to be exact. The relationship gets even stickier when it turns out that David is actually the son of Rafi’s therapist, Lisa (Meryl Streep).

The way they’re advertising this, you’d think the next words in that synopsis should be “hijinks ensue” (don’t they always?), but alas, none really do. The movie is mostly about David and Rafi seriously working on a relationship that has a number of factors going against it, with age being the most obvious issue. At 23, David is still figuring out what he wants to do with his life, while Rafi, at 37, knows where she is and fears her ticking biological clock.

The fact that Rafi’s therapist is David’s mother just amounts to one more obstacle they have to overcome in their relationship. Honestly, that’s all it is, even though the movie does go out of its way to make it more. It hopes to be an idea that’s funny and clever and throws a wrench into the mix, but it doesn’t succeed. Aside from the one session where Rafi goes into detail about their sex life (used liberally in the trailer), the whole therapist-is-his-mom thing just doesn’t work. Ultimately, after the movie, you’re just kind of wondering what the whole point of that idea was, because it never comes to fruition.

On the other hand, it is nice to have a movie that depicts a relationship more realistically than usual. The characters live in apartments that actually reflect their income levels (for example, David, a struggling artist, lives in a tiny studio apartment), they have fights about who’s carrying the weight while they’re living together, and they have to deal with each other’s friends and family. Unlike most romantic comedy duos, they don’t live in a vacuum. It’s a refreshing change.

In all honesty, while Prime is something different, it’s not really executed well enough to warrant purchasing a ticket. Unless you’re a huge fan of the actors and actresses involved, there isn’t much of a reason to go.

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