Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Dancing with the stars

By Edward Copeland
When the waiters and the florists of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced nominations for a film called Last Chance Harvey, I thought this was another instance of the HFPA somehow being talked into nominating a film no one had ever heard of in exchange for ... whatever. The only difference was that Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson are bigger names than usual. Now though the film is gaining notoriety and I've seen it myself, so I do know it exists. I also know it's a charming, if slight, movie though I'm not sure it belongs in the comedy category.

Hoffman stars as Harvey Shine, a commercial jingle composer on a downward spiral in his career and his life who is heading to London for the wedding of his only daughter. His path briefly crosses with Thompson, a middle-age spinster who works at the airport in London trying to get passengers to take surveys while living with her constantly meddling mom (Eileen Atkins).

Harvey had been planning to return to New York immediately following the nuptials to personally oversee a commercial pitch, a decision cemented when he learns that his daughter wants her stepfather (James Brolin) to give her away instead of Harvey. Because he misses his flight, he gets stuck at the airport and again encounters Thompson and the two lonely souls strike up a tentative friendship.

Written and directed by Joel Hopkins, Last Chance Harvey isn't a particularly great film, but it's not a bad film either. It's really just a chance to watch two pros like Hoffman and Thompson bounce their bountiful skills off each other and there are worse ways to spend an hour and a half.

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You pretty much summed up the way I feel about this one - it's very slight, but Hoffman and Thompson are charming together, and it's a nice, light entertainment, if not an altogether memorable one. One little quibble - it annoys me when director/screenwriters use montages to fill in the gaps. The two characters have this long, animated, probably very revealing conversation while he's escorting her to her writing class - of course, we never hear any of it.
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