About Double Feature

Double Feature is the title of a column that I write for the newsletter of Lehigh Pocono Mensa, the local group to which I belong. It gets published monthly in "Magniloquence." I used to belong to Central PA Mensa, so I offer the column to the editor of "Penn Central" and it shows up there pretty regularly.

As the title implies, each Double Feature column features brief reviews of two movies that I have seen. I try to find a connection between the two films - subject matter, stars, awards, etc. - but, since it's my column, I reserve the right to occasionally choose two films that have no connection to each other at all.

The reviews found in the Movies section of this Web site serve as the basis for Double Feature. I try to keep each column somewhere around 500 words (which fills about one page in the newsletter), so I usually have to edit the original reviews to fit into the space allotted.

If you'd like to read the individual reviews for the films mentioned in Double Feature, you can do so here.

The rating scales are a little different. The conversion chart is as follows:

  • **** = Loved it
  • *** = Liked it
  • ** = Ehhh, it was OK
  • * = Hated it

Current Column

September 2017 - Hollywood's hunger for sequels often makes me wonder if all the good ideas have been taken. Two movies called Hope Springs make me wonder if all the good titles have been used up, too!

In the PG-13 Hope Springs from 2003, Colin Firth finds hope and Heather Graham when he dumps his high-class fiancée and flies across the pond to heal his broken heart. The cast includes Minnie Driver, Mary Steenburgen and Oliver Platt.

Firth plays a British artist conveniently named Colin. Driver is his longtime girlfriend, Vera. One day, Colin receives an invitation – to Vera's wedding – to another man! A devastated Colin takes off for America and arrives in Hope, Vermont, a town he picked because of its hopeful-sounding name. He settles into a motel run by Mary Steenburgen and her husband and sets about sketching the people of Hope.

Steenburgen quickly introduces Colin to Mandy (Graham), a free-spirited young woman who lives and works at the local old folks' home. Mandy quickly helps Colin heal his broken heart. But, their happiness doesn't last once Vera arrives, determined to win back her man.

Overall review: Ehhh, it was OK. At 92 minutes, the movie is still about 10 minutes too long. Additionally, I know this is a movie and the characters just do what the writers make them do. But, for the life of me, I can't figure out why a) Colin falls so hard for Mandy; and b) both Mandy and Vera think Colin is such a catch!

In the PG-13 Hope Springs from 2012, Meryl Streep hopes Steve Carell can help save her marriage to Tommy Lee Jones. David Frankel, who directed Streep in 2006's The Devil Wears Prada, directs a supporting cast that features Elisabeth Shue, Jean Smart and Mimi Rogers.

Streep and Jones play Kay and Arnold, a couple married for 31 years. Arnold is an accountant and Kay brings in some extra cash by working at a clothing store. Their marriage has settled into a routine where they sleep in separate rooms and barely communicate. Kay seems ready to bail, but decides to give it one more shot by signing up for a week of intensive couple's therapy with Dr. Feld (Carell).

Feld has his office in Hope Springs, Maine. Arnold is none too happy about the 1,500-mile trip, the cost of eating out, or the exercises that Feld prescribes during his sessions. Still, Arnold makes an effort. The question is will it be enough to keep Kay from leaving?

Overall review: Ehhh, it was OK. I managed to make it through the entire movie, and it's not a completely horrible film. But, Streep, who has the ability to rise above mediocre material (see Mamma Mia!), can’t provide such magic here. She and Jones have to carry the movie, and they lack the chemistry to do it. And, quite honestly, given the way Jones' character talks down to Kay, I don't know why she wants to save the marriage in the first place.

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"No good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough." »» Roger Ebert