Thursday, April 30, 2009

Last Chance Harvey DVD

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson’s Romantic Romp Released on DVD

When you’re working with a script as superficial as this love story’s, you’re lucky to land actors of the caliber of Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson. So, director Joel Hopkins owes a debt of gratitude to these talented Oscar-winners for generating the requisite chemistry to imbue what would have otherwise merely been a readily-forgettable sitcom with enough gravitas to make it actually worth watching.
Hoffman handles the title role here as Harvey Shine, an aging New Yorker facing last chances at love, career and fatherhood. As the story opens, we find him having a hard time holding on to his day gig as a TV-jingle writer. Despite a stern warning from his boss (Richard Schiff) that his job is in jeopardy, he flies to London for the impending wedding of his estranged daughter, Susan (Liane Balaban), to a chap named Scott (Daniel Lapaine).
Harvey soon comes to regret his decision to attend when, shortly before the ceremony, she informs him that she’s already asked her step-dad (James Brolin) to walk her down the aisle. Devastated by the snub, he rushes back to Heathrow but arrives too late to catch a flight back in time to prevent his being fired.
Next, he dejectedly drags himself into a pub where, while crying in his beer, he becomes instantly smitten with Kate (Emma Thompson), a shy and retiring spinster. She’s also down-in-the-dumps. between blind dates from hell and the constant smothering from her hovering helicopter mom (Eileen Atkins).
It is therefore no surprise when sparks start to fly between these two sad sacks, and Kate grudgingly agrees to accompany Harvey to his daughter’s wedding. After the reception, Harvey puts his plans to return to the States on hold indefinitely to pursue the whirlwind romance which ensues.
Will the affair blossom into full-blown love? That is the unanswered question at the center of the Last Chance Harvey, an emotionally-restrained adventure which conveniently devotes more attention to shooting its cuddly protagonists against a variety of spectacular London backdrops than to having them explore their feelings in any meaningful depth. Don’t expect anything more than a pleasant, if predictable, deliberately-paced diversion of this lonely hearts saga, and you won’t be disappointed.
Worth it just to watch Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson effortlessly weave movie magic via vintage screen performances.

Very Good (3 stars)
Rated PG-13 for brief profanity.
Running time: 93 minutes
Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
2-Disc DVD Extras: Audio commentary by director Joel Hopkins and co-stars Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson, “The Making of” featurette, and the theatrical trailer.

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