Are You Unhappy With Your Marriage?

Are you and your significant other having relationship troubles?  Is your marriage not what is used to be?  Do you feel that the partner you once loved is no longer the same person you fell in love with?  Does this opening sound like a commercial for a love counseling clinic?  If the answer is yes, than I have fooled you, as this is no advertisement, but instead the opening for my latest review.  This time I’m focusing on the latest Dramedy titled Hope Springs, starring Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, and Steve Carell.  Can this star filled cast make this comedy worth a shot, or is it better left to Redbox and Netflix for your viewing pleasure.  Read on to find out.

In case you haven’t seen the billion showings of the trailer, Hope Springs is about Kay (Streep) and Arnold (Jones) a couple married for thirty one years who have somehow lost the spark in their relationship.  Wanting to revive the intimacy and passion, Kay discovers Dr. Feld (Carell), an intensive counseling therapist who apparently has the key to fix any despondent marriage, and books a session with him.  Can this marriage guru reunite the two lover’s passions, or is this the end of the line for the two’s love life?  Well I can’t tell you the ending, but I can tell you about the movie itself.

For the most part this Drama/Comedy is skewed more towards the drama than the comedy.  Although the trailers showed a few zingers, most of the movie had a drier sense of humor than the typical slapstick/one liners that most comedies have.  While I was able to understand a few of the references, most of this humor was lost on me.  Instead the delivery and awkwardness of the comedy were the funnier aspects of this movie.  Jones in particular has a way of being funny when he is stubborn, saying whatever he wants without caring what others think.  Streep on the other hand was stronger in the awkward situation comedy, where her innocent, pure nature was challenged by the leap into the modern day sex.  Perhaps what made it funnier for me was that I somehow related to Streep’s nature and was also a little uncomfortable by the movie’s situations.   Fans of classic Carell though will be disappointed, as the only funny thing about him in this movie is seeing the former Office boss as a marriage counselor.

Instead the movie’s biggest strength is the capturing of the hardship of a dying romance.  From the start the directing team has done a fantastic job portraying a struggling couple’s relationship.  All of the obstacles to intimacy, such as television, work, etc. were all realistically portrayed and helped to pull the audience in.  I can’t tell you how many times I could recall a memory that was relatable to these scenarios, which helped me appreciate the movie’s messages more.  Yet no amount of props, or aesthetically pleasing houses can deliver a message better than actors.  Both Jones and Streep put their strong acting talents to work to help create two realistic characters.  Although a little overdramatic on crying at points, I felt both did a great job keeping their characters dynamic and fresh throughout the movie, without getting overemotional and crossing into the soap opera zone.

Yet the most impressive, and surprising, acting was Carell playing the marriage counselor.  This role had him playing the calm therapist and while I’ve seen him calm before, I am usually depressed by his characters.  However, in this movie his serious nature was instead the beacon of light that shined in the darkness of the failing marriage.  Dr. Feld’s character kept the movie going by opening up more situations, opportunities, and choices that the couple had to face.  While this shouldn’t be a surprise, the direction of the movie combined with Carell’s talent managed to also use Dr. Feld’s part to get the audience to think too.  Many of the questions, exercises, and activities he proposed were reliable tools to give the audience a chance to reflect on their own lives as well.  I know I’m sounding like one of the hostesses from the View, but with all the relationship troubles I’ve seen this message really speaks to me.  As I’m sure all of you can guess, the message is that marriage is hard and requires a serious form of communication to truly make it work.  Yes, this is predictable in almost every movie about marriage, but again the delivery of the message is what is impressive.  If Dr. Feld’s questions don’t get the message to you, then Carell’s monologue at the end should strike home.  The hope he inspires with the message is cliché, but Carell does such a good job selling the line, one can’t help but get motivated to go out and do what needs to be done.

Overall Hope Springs is one of the more realistic dramedies I have ever seen.  The great cast, beautiful scenery, and wonderful direction combine to make a cute movie with an inspiring message.  Unfortunately the comedy and pace of the movie might not be what everyone is looking for and it’s not as diverse as I thought it would be.  Regardless the key audiences for this movie are of course married couples, girl night out groups, spiritual message lookers, or anyone with serious relationship issues.  Is this movie worth a trip to the theater?  If you’re marriage needs some inspiration, then yes I say go for it.  However, if the relationship is fine, then skip this movie and watch it at home with your loved ones.  My scores for this movie are the following:

Comedy/Drama:  7.5-8.0 for the realistic dramatic situations

Movie Overall: 6.5-7.0

 

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