Maggie's Plan movie full length review - Pretentious
This film is a Woody Allen wannabe. It doesn't rate the noble title of, "Screwball Comedy," because the contrived and humorless "humor" doesn't come close to that sparkling genre of yesteryear.
To compare the film to the likes of, "Bringing Up Baby," or "My Man Godfrey" is sheer wishful thinking, either on the part of the viewer, and/or the writer-director. Miller's work never seems to rise above film school caliber, with incoherent plot lines, annoying characters and an overall quality that this writer-director has no greater message or story to convey without having to resort to the bizarre. The incestuous overtones between father and daughter in, "The Ballad of Jack and Rose," or, in the novel, "Jacob's Folly," a human being reincarnated into an oversexed fly come to mind.
This is the story of Maggie (Greta Gerwig), a control-freak who can't maintain a relationship but wants a child, and decides to achieve this end by artificial insemination using the semen of a--pickle entrepreneur. Seriously. In a disgusting scene Gerwig, spreadeagled, inseminates herself with a turkey baster only to have the married John (Ethan Hawke) show up at her place to declare his love for her. Another example of the Self-Absorbed so prevalent in this movie, John is unhappily married to the highly successful Georgette, played by Julianne Moore using an accent that's supposed to be Danish, but sounds like something between bad Eva Braun and Frau Bluuker from "Young Frankenstein." The impression left by John's sudden love of Maggie ties into the fact that she loves the book he has been writing for years while his current wife ignores it.
In poor story construction, from the night John shows up at Maggie's place and has sex with her apres her self-insemination, a sudden jump of three years into the future finds the couple now married to one another--unhappily--with a child of their own. John has turned out to be a deadbeat non-supporter who saddles Maggie with the bread winning, housework and child rearing, including his children from his previous marriage to Georgette still absorbed in writing the book he has never finished. So Maggie devises a plan to reunite Georgette and John once again, freeing her to the happy realm of single motherhood. We're supposed to sympathize with, or find amusing, this ditz who has no compunction to get involved with a married man, marry him, uproot his children, and then wants a divorce from him because she can't live with the consequences of her actions.
I wish it could be said this movie had lines worth mentioning. It defeats the purpose of a dialogue-driven movie when the script is mediocre and not in the least bit funny. Ethan Hawke does a good job of playing the deadbeat John as though he's wise enough as an actor to know he is in a film of not much importance and doesn't take the job too seriously. Greta Gerwig has a field day once again, playing Greta Gerwig in an Indie film, a serious reincarnation of all her previous roles. Somehow, it gets tiresome. If you enjoy films about self-absorbed New Yorkers who relate only to their own shallow inner circles, this might be your cup of tea. Especially if you equate far flung sympathy to their apocalyptic over reaction when their selfish and shallow plans, that no one else can truly relate to, except perhaps for a spoiled brat with a trust fund fall through, makes you find this relative or amusing. But overall, the feel and execution of this film reminds me of rushed, school girl projects hashed out at the last minute in a college dorm. It's an arrogant attempt to paint modern life into the slanted cosmic view of the writer and director, all the while leaving the strong impression this person knows nothing of the real world, or life, after all.