By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
Greta Gerwig’s got a good thing going on, Indie Cinema’s Golden Girl and on the acting side the go-to whenever a director is looking to cast a intellectual, quirky, slightly oblivious hipster chick with a penchant for comedy and drama both. So why mess with it?
How could Noah Baumbach make another film without her?
In Maggie’s Plan, Greta Gerwig is Greta Gerwig, errr Maggie, a university employee who falls for a “ficto-critical anthropologist” (Ethan Hawke), the only complication being he already has a dour Scandinavian wife (Julianne Moore), which proves to be a short-lived one. After having a child, she finds out that the kind of likable yet selfish prick who would abandon his family is maybe the kind of likable yet selfish prick that you wouldn’t want to make a life with, so she hatches the sort of plan that gets her out of the relationship guilt-free: convince his wife to take him back.
This is exactly the kind of farce we’ve come to associate with Gerwig, funny, clever, with an undercurrent of emotion that tethers the film to the ground so it doesn’t fly entirley off into light whimsy. It’s almost easy to take these for granted at this point, but if you’ve liked any of her output from the last five years or so, you’ll find plenty to like with this one.
The rest of the cast is just as entertaining, though. Moore is absoultely great, saddled with a ridiculous accent and icy mien but creating a fully realized character who may end up being the most relatable of the bunch, not that that’s a particularly high bar. Hawke is the “nice guy”, an oblivous and strangely likable asshole character that shows both his talent and screenwriter/director Rebecca Miller’s generally good job of balancing how selfish and awful these characters all are with making them likable anyway. Additionally, her direction is polished, nicely paced, and with a sense of comic timing right up there with Gerwig’s previous bigger named counterparts.
Maggie’s Plan has also definitely got that Brooklyn, Girls/hipster vibe that puts off some folks, also definitely veering at times towards a little cutesy and precious. Selling this sort of thing is Greta Gerwig’s bread and butter, but if you don’t like it…
…you’re not going to like it.
The one area Miller ends up going too far is with the ending, which is legimately awful. We get a generic, *ambiguous* closeup even though it’s as unambiguous and cloying an ending as the very worst Gary Marshall (RIP) romcom. Like Maggie, this movie wants to have its cake, and eat it, too, and sees no problem in it, and her, getting both.
Maggie’s Plan is another Greta Gerwig joint. You already pretty much know whether it’s for you or not based on that alone.
Maggie’s Plan (2016) Drinking Game
Take a Sip: whenever Maggie tries to manipulate something
Take a Drink: whenever she complains about anything
Take a Drink: for “Midwest Nice” insults
Do a Shot: whenever Julianne Moore’s accent gets extra awesome
Do a Shot: for surprising scatalogical humor