San Diego's Morning News with Ted and LaDona

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At The Movies With Josh: The Idea of You

I had never seen the movie “Notting Hill” (Julia Roberts, Hugh Grant), but my buddy Steve Poltz (one of the most clever songwriters to ever pick up a guitar) had a song on their soundtrack, and my wife liked it, so I gave it a watch a few months ago. I thought it was cute, but I was ultimately disappointed by it. My wife liked it, and she’s usually tough on rom-coms. Now, neither of us are big fans of Anne Hathaway, and when watching this rom-com, it reminded me so much of Notting Hill. Imagine my surprise when I fell under its romantic spell, while my wife gave me crap the entire ride home for liking it.

Sure, it’s formulaic, predictable, and cheesy in a few scenes. But this book adaptation had enough going for it that it went down easy and was rather enjoyable.

The film is based on a book, that some say was based on Harry Styles relationship with Olivia Wilde. The story involves the singer of a boy band named Hayes Campbell (Nicholas Galitizine), who is 24-years-old. There’s a 40-year-old divorced mom named Solene Marchand (Hathaway) who gets roped into going to the meet-and-greet with the band because her daughter (Ella Rubin) is a fan. Yet one of the smart things they did was…making her daughter someone that was a fan years ago when she was a teenybopper in 6th grade. Now the high school teen is more into St. Vincent and Fionna Apple (both great artists we get to hear in the movie). Hayes and Solene have a meet/cute that actually is cute. In most rom-coms, I find how the couple first meets to be idiotic. Instead, the idiotic scenes in this movie deal with her ex-husband. Literally every scene with him is dumb. I was always wondering – why does his new, hot wife need to be standing outside when she’s dropping the kids off, and complimenting the outfits Solene is wearing, or the ex trying to talk to Solene about some goofy thing. It just didn’t ring true. Even later scenes when he’s upset about her relationship with this young rock star – could’ve been done so much better. 

But we get some good laughs when Solene has a 40th birthday party, with a few goofy male suitors (one asking her if she’d like to “Go to a restaurant, for….some food.”).

She has charisma and sexiness in some scenes, but can also pull of pathos in others. Now, I do have a pet peeve about professions on screen. It’s usually a struggling writer in New York, that seemingly has a huge loft that we wonder how they can afford. One of the other professions that bothers me on screen is what Solene does – run an art gallery. And, when Hayes comes in and buys all the art – it was one of a handful of scenes that could’ve been done so much better. If you’re trying to impress somebody that loves art, just showing off your money in that way doesn’t seem to be what should do the trick. How about having him mention a piece on the wall, that reminds him of some classic artist from the past, to show that maybe he does know a bit about art; and THEN having him say, “Ya know what? The place I just bought in England has nothing on the walls, I’ll take it all.”

Because one of the nice things about watching their relationship is that, despite his character being 24-years-old, and an age gap that plays into one of the problems with their relationship, he never acts like a dumb rock star. But I do prefer romances to show why the couple would be together. It’s one of the things that bothered me about “The Notebook” but one of the few things “Call Me By Your Name” got right – they had the couple talking about things they were both interested in (that involved a certain way he played piano incorporating classical artists in).

Another thing this film got right – that cheesy scene where people sing along to a song in the car, or a couple singing to a goofy ‘80s song to each other. Both those scenes they do in this movie worked (although because Wang Chung played at senior year trip in high school, seeing the couple being sexy in a hotel room to “Dance Hall Days” might’ve just worked better for me on that level).

This movie was sexy and romantic, in ways “50 Shades” needed to be (that’s a movie that made my worst of the year list).

Director Michael Showalter did a great job with the pacing, and lots of aspects of this film. He had previously done a movie my wife and I loved, the criminally underrated “The Big Sick.”

Now, this movie wasn’t nearly as good as another movie that explored an age gap relationship with the woman being the older character – “Cha Cha Real Smooth” from a few years ago, but it was done the way a rom-com should be done; because despite it being formulaic and predictable, I kept sitting there wanting them to get together, and then wanting them not to break up, and wanting the daughter to find out and be excited for them, wanting the ex-husband to be furious, and on and on.

The songs the boy band, August Moon, did were surprisingly catchy, too.

This film opens on Amazon Prime this weekend.

3 stars out of 5.

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