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Prime (3/10)

by Tony Medley

Not only did I not think this was funny, it seemed that Meryl Streep (Lisa Metzger) and Bryan Greenberg (David Bloomberg) were “acting.” If someone thinks you’re “acting” you’re not doing your job. However, it seemed to be a setup audience because people actually started laughing at the opening titles. When people laugh at things that are clearly not funny, odds are that the audience is loaded with shills.

Uma Thurman (Rafi Gardet) gives a workmanlike, professional performance, but her attraction to David is pretty hard to swallow. He looks like he has just graduated from kindergarten. Maybe a 37-year-old-woman who has just divorced is vulnerable to rebound romance. In fact the only explanation for Rafi being attracted to such an insubstantial nebbish is that she’s suffering from PDFF. Even so, this attraction strains credulity, considering that they have nothing in common and there is a gargantuan gap of sophistication and experience. Oh, yeah, he’s an artist and her favorite painting is an ugly thing that it just turns out he is working on copying. But they don’t find that out until after the romance has turned hot and heavy. This is a romance that could only have been created on a Hollywood studio’s backlot, certainly not in real life. Not only do they have nothing in common, she’s ambitious and he doesn’t even have a job and it doesn’t seem to bother him.

There’s a really silly minor character, Morris (Jon Abrahams), who’s sole purpose seems to be to throw pies in the face of girls he has dated and who have dumped him. Not even remotely funny.

Morris also appears in another scene that is uninformed, to say the least. For some reason there is a scene showing David and Morris in a pickup basketball game. I played pickup basketball until I was 35. During a pickup basketball game there is virtually no talking, unless someone says something like “pick left.” Nobody talks (unless it’s a game with trash-talkers, which didn’t exist in my day). Nobody calls for the ball. Nobody says anything. They just play basketball. In this movie, however, Morris is talking a blue streak. If someone had talked like that in one of my games, he wouldn’t have lasted long. Morris is David’s bosom buddy, which validates the supposition that David is as big a jerk as Morris.

It’s one thing for a movie to be dumb, poorly written, poorly directed, uninformed, and not funny, which this movie is. It’s quite another to be totally irresponsible. There is a scene in which David is shown cleaning his ears with a Q-Tip, something that Rafi has apparently taught him, and he expresses his gratitude. He says how great it is and he gets mad at his mother for not teaching him how to do it. His mother, Lisa, is apologetic. Young and/or inexperienced people seeing this movie could be influenced to start cleaning their ears with Q-Tips. The box containing Q-Tips itself warns the user not to insert the Q-Tip into the ear canal. Dr. William Luxford of the world-renowned House Ear Clinic says that it can not only cause a ruptured ear drum, it could conceivable lead to total hearing loss. If something like this is inserted in a film, the responsible thing would be to be specific about how to do it. This film only shows David pushing the Q-Tip into his ear without being told by Rafi about the dangers involved.  I hope that nobody injures themselves from seeing this ignorant movie. But if they do, the filmmakers should be held legally responsible for any damages resulting from anyone using a Q-Tip to clean their ears as a result of seeing this film. This scene is outrageous, but it is in keeping with other uninformed scenes I’ve seen in other Hollywood movies from filmmakers who are more interested in a scene that they think works than in being accurate and responsible. This scene has no relationship to the story and seems to have been inserted gratuitously.

A movie shouldn’t make the viewer feel embarrassed, but that’s what this one did to me. The dialogue was forced. The lovemaking scenes really had me squirming. Fortunately, there’s one person to blame for this since Ben Younger both wrote and directed. The script is weak, and someone, apart from the actors, has to be responsible for the flimsy result from a story line that could have been hilarious.

But I don’t want to remove blame from the actors. Even considering Bloomberg’s ineptitude, the worst part of the movie is Meryl Streep. She is monumentally miscast as a Jewish mother who is meant to be funny. Bette Midler would have been, well, divine in this role and maybe the movie could have worked, despite Greenberg and the clumsy script. But Streep’s forced comedy, for which she is obviously ill equipped, proves once again the validity of Sir Donald Wolfit’s dictum, “Dying is easy; comedy is hard.”

October 25, 2005