Aug 9, 2014

Review: Hope Springs (2003)

Colin Firth in 2003 had pretty much won his spot in the romantic comedy genre. Think Fever Pitch from 1997 or the big obvious one here, Bridget Jones's Diary in 2001. With a budget of $25 million, it made $282 million which is a more than healthy chunk of change. Obviously Colin is capable of doing bigger and better things, but the premise of a Brit traveling to a town by the name of Hope in Vermont to get over a relationship could lend itself to perhaps something of interest. 

Hope Springs in the end was not very warmly received. English director Mark Herman who had previously had a steady string of directing jobs only went on to direct and write one more movie, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas which was six years ago. Mark Herman based Hope Springs on Charles Webb's novel New Cardiff. Yes, The Graduate Charles Webb. Whether or not Herman followed the material properly, Hope Springs is a completely uninspired mess which in no way sets it apart from other romantic comedies at the time.


Genre: comedy, romance
Directed by: Mark Herman
Produced by: Uri Fruchtmann, Barnaby Thompson, Grace Gilroy
Written by: Mark Herman
Music by: John Altman
Running time: 92 minutes
Production company: Touchstone Pictures, Fragile Films, Mumbo Jumbo Productions, etc.
Distributed by: Buena Vista Pictures, Buena Vista International, Gativideo, etc.
Country: United Kingdom, United States
Language: English
Budget: N/A
Box office: N/A

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Colin Firth, Heather Graham, Minnie Driver, Mary Steenburgen, Frank Collison, Oliver Platt, Mary Black, Ken Kramer, Chad Faust, Tony Alcantar, Bethoe Shirkoff, Alan Giles


Sensitive Colin Ware (Colin Firth) is dumped by his longtime girlfriend who had become his fiancée. He decides to go on a spur of the moment trip and chooses the town of Hope because it sounds hopeful. He's extremely depressed and decides to pass the time by drawing the town's residents. He gets introduced to the free spirited Mandy (Heather Graham) who tries to help him cope with the distress he's going through. 


It's difficult to really sympathize with our hero Colin Ware. Between the bad script and the surprisingly questionable acting from Colin Firth, I honestly wanted to punch Mr. Ware in the face. He's exhaustingly pitiful to watch and it's not like Heather Graham is able to add anything to the equation either. She plays the annoying Nathan Robin coined manic pixie dream girl and is forced to undergo some painfully awkward scenes herself. Add in an annoying montage of scenes depicting Mandy trying to teach Colin how to let go and we have liftoff into facepalming territory.

It's pretty clear that the romance aspect of Hope Springs is incredibly derivative. (Spoilers) The appearance of Vera Edwards is of no surprise to anyone. Why do I even bother putting the spoiler warning? Oh, she's the complete opposite of Mandy? Didn't see that coming. How is Colin Ware ever going to choose which woman he wants to be with? Who knows? (End Spoilers) There's not really any chemistry between anyone and there aren't any real laughs either. 

That's the other part of Hope Springs which limps across the finish line. The humour tries some fish out of water stuff involving Colin the Brit trying to make his way in the good old US of A. Whether it's in terms of vocabulary or driving on the wrong side of the road there's nothing new. Hope Springs also tries to pack as many quirky characters as it possibly can. Oliver Platt tries to inject some laughs with a fast talking persona in Mayor Doug Reed, but his energy is wasted. Frank Collison's character Mr. Fisher is probably the only hint of comedy there truly is in all of Hope Springs pretty much based on his appearance. What about Mary Steenburgen as Joanie Fisher, the wife to Mr. Fisher? Nope, no cigar there either. Trust me.

Thankfully the whole thing is over in an hour and a half. Hope Springs is devoid of pretty much anything original and it dips into terrible territory on more than one occasion with its awful script. No one can save this flatlining "romantic" "comedy" film from being that DVD you see in the bargain bin every time you go to browse movies at Walmart. 



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