Maggie’s Plan Review

Posted: March 2, 2016 in 2016 Berlinale, Comedy, Reviews
Tags: , , , , ,

Maggie's PlanMaybe this one works with Amy Schumer in the lead.

And you slide Bill Hader over from best guy friend to goofball sperm donor.

Certainly, it would help if you give Maya Rudolph considerably more to do.

And definitely the odds improve if you show Julianne Moore the door.

But as it stands, Maggie’s Plan, a would-be romantic comedy, fails on both counts – it’s neither sweet nor funny. The movie wants so badly to be a New York City/Manhattan/Center of the Hipster Universe/Cool Kids Only Need Apply edgy, indie happening, but it misses by a mile and winds up as a atonal mess in which the comics beats are stepped on by stressful scenes of working women scrambling to raise their children or someone else’s children or both.

Greta Gerwig is Maggie, who, as our story begins, has decided to impregnate herself with the sperm of a pickle salesman (and no, apparently, the irony of that was not intended by the screenwriter/director Rebecca Miller). The inevitable complication takes shape in the form of Ethan Hawke, who is quite good in a terrible role – the married-with-children academic and wannabe novelist who withers in the sunlight that follows his more celebrated wife (Julianne Moore) everywhere she goes.

Maggie gets what she wants, and that’s when the old adage about two great tragedies in life – (1) never getting your heart’s desire, and (2) getting it – come into play. Fast forward a couple of years (as the film does), and she has an adorable young daughter and a hunky Mr. Hawke as her husband. But maybe, just maybe, her kid’s real father is a turkey baster, and her husband is an incredible loser who would be better off with his ex-wife. But how would you accomplish such a thing? Well, you would have to have a plan. Maggie’s Plan. Yes, groan now, and save $14.50, rather than doing it in a near empty theater later.

Gerwig is quite sweet as Maggie, and that is the problem. Sweet doesn’t cut it. We need a delightful, hilarious bitch in the role. The casting of Moore as the ex-wife is an even more egregious error. Red-headed, freckled, could not look more Irish if she had a shamrock growing out of her ass, Julianne Moore plays a Scandinavian ice princess, with an aloof manner and a ridiculous accent. You could go one of two ways here if you’re casting this part. First way is get a Scandinavian actress. Either Ellen Dorrit Petersen from Blind or Ane Dahl Torp from 1001 Grams would have been perfect. The alternative is to stick with Moore and go with Irish, or God forbid, straight-up American ethnicity.

Hader and Rudolph as the best friend couple making it work are criminally underutilized. The pickle salesman’s got potential, but he’s in and out faster than the turkey baster. On the plus side, the daughter is adorable, with the bubble scene especially precious. And the film is only 92 minutes, so there would be still be time to salvage the evening.

Have a Plan B.


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