I Could Never Be Your Woman (2007)

Rated: PG-13 for sexual content and language
Length: 97 minutes
Grade: ACB+B=B+
Budget: $24 million
Box Office: $600,000

Written and Directed by: Amy Heckerling, who directed A Night at the Roxbury, Clueless, Look Who’s Talking 1 and 2, European Vacation, Johnny Dangerously, and (most famously) Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
Starring: Michelle Pfeiffer, Paul Rudd, Saoirse Ronan, Tracey Ullman, Jon Lovitz, Sarah Alexander, with appearances by Fred Willard, Stacey Dash, Twink Caplan, and Henry Winkler.

Rosie is an aging television writer for a popular teen show and trying to raise her daughter after her divorce. Adam is a new actor with an amazing comedic talent and twenty years too young for her. But she’s the one who breaks it off even though he really loves her. Then, when the network cancels her show to feature him in one, Adam refuses to perform until they let her do the writing. Meanwhile, her secretary is constantly trying to undermine her and their relationship.

Entertainment Value: A
I think I have a man crush on Paul Rudd, who is surely my now favorite comedic actor. I find him so entertaining that he can make an entire movie worthwhile just by being in it like he did for Over Her Dead Body (though cameos don’t count, which is why he couldn’t save Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story). This movie started out slow, at about a C. But it just kept getting better and better until it literally forced me to give it an A for cleverness, wit, and sheer comedy. Plus there are good things to talk about.

Superficial Content: C
Drugs/Alcohol B, Sexuality C, Violence A, Language C, Illegality NA
The issues here are largely thematic rather than overt, but the movie is built around at least one sexual relationship, although nothing is really shown. There are jokes about sex and enough use of profanity to merit PG-13. I thought the beginning felt fairly vulgar. One thing that might bother some of you is that Mother Nature is portrayed as a spirit-like being who has chats with Michelle Pfeiffer and the girls put a love hex on someone later in the movie.

Significant Content: B+
There are lots of themes here. The most significant message is one that’s somewhat hidden from view. Television, like Barbie Dolls, is make-believe and, as such, is ultimately unsatisfying compared with our real needs in real life. Just as we outgrow Barbies, we should probably outgrow television. This is a pretty sophisticated message coming from the director who brought us Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Another major theme here is the absurdity of adults trying to cater to children’s tastes and adopt children’s attire and speech mannerisms. It’s very much a satire of our culture’s obsession with youth and appearance. But there’s yet a third major theme here about what is natural and unnatural, although the film doesn’t decide in the end what to do with it. Largely, however, Mother Nature is strongly critical of all the stupid, unnatural, counterproductive things Baby Boomers have done with themselves and the world. Finally, loyalty to the one who brought you (as demonstrated by Rudd and mocked via her ex-husband played by Jon Lovitz) is highly endorsed.

Artistic/Thought Value: B+
What you’ve got here is genius filmmaking hidden under less-than-ideally executed film. It seemed unprocessed and almost amateurish at first, and this impression didn’t really leave over the course of the movie. Also, I thought the backstabbing secretary was just a silly and distracting plot element. However, some of the designed elements here were brilliant. Having Fred Ward adopt 13-year-olds’ speech. The use of the daughter to sing a critique of the culture by parodying Alanis Morissette’s Ironic. And especially the use of Barbie Dolls to critique television. Brilliant stuff.

Discussion Questions:
~What do you think of adults who try to dress and speak like teenagers?
~What do you think of a society that caters so heavily to young people for its social norms?
~When Rosie stands up for her daughter at school, how does that impact her daughter? How important is it for kids to believe their parents are on their side? Are there any limits to this? Were teachers and parents more united in the “old days?”
~How important is loyalty to you? Have you ever had the opportunity to get ahead at something by betraying someone else or even by simply not requiring that they come along with you?
~How do you think you know when it’s true love? Is “true love” a useful concept?
~Did you outgrow playing with dolls? Why? Do you think people should eventually outgrow television and movies? Is that a realistic assessment of the point of this movie?
~Why are boomers so ill-equipped to discuss morality with their children.
Overall Grade: B+
If you can make it more than halfway, you’ll really enjoy the rest of the movie. I know I did. It’s so rare that a mediocre movie becomes good. Usually it’s the other way round. Now let me go. I have to write my letter of adoration to Paul Rudd.

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