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ALEX & EMMA

In the cultural neverland where Rob Reiner’s senile comedy takes place, Luke Wilson’s first novel (about "commitment") makes enough of a splash for him to sign a deal whereby he’ll get $125,000 on finishing the second. With the deadline a month away, he’s in debt to a Miami loan shark and hasn’t written a word. So he hires agency stenographer Kate Hudson and dictates the novel to her in his quaint Boston garret while the audience, clenching its teeth, waits for the romantic dust motes to fly.

Loosely based on the circumstances of the composition of Dostoyevsky’s The Gambler, this disaster also draws on Richard Quine’s 1964 farce Paris When It Sizzles, which likewise has the writer and his secretary/muse appear as characters in the story-within-a-story. The feebleness of the film’s grasp on contemporary reality may be gauged from the scene in which a "what’s it gonna be, sweetheart" bus driver waits with his door open for Hudson to take her endless Parthian shot at Wilson in front of his building. Bostonians may get a mirthless snicker or two out of the filmmakers’ notion of "Jamaica Plain," or the montage in which Wilson and Hudson go on a Duck Tour to recharge his creative batteries. (110 minutes)

BY CHRIS FUJIWARA

Issue Date: June 20 - 26, 2003
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