The first question that comes to mind, after we’ve had a taste of ‘Maggie’s Plan’, is ‘Did Woody write this?’ The answer is no – the screenplay was composed by its director, Rebecca Miller – but it certainly has Woody writ large all over it – no bad thing in my view. You half expected him to appear at any time. I grant you Woody Allen can be an acquired taste for some – but good Woody I just adore. Some of his oeuvre of Jewish idiosyncrasy, though, can veer towards the borders of tedium. This I would rate as a tad above mid-range on the Woody scale. Its no classic, but never remotely approaches tedium.
Maggie wants a bub, but is sans partner. As the film opens, she is investigating a stoner pickle maker as a potential donor. Now it took me a while to figure out where I’d seen this guy before. Then it dawned on me – Travis Fimmel, our lusty chief Viking, in a very different role. He was great, despite his sadly limited screen time. I half expected Maggie to end up with him, but I am not giving the answer to that away. His performance, along with Bill Hader’s voice, is one of the movie’s quirky treats. Throwing in Julianne Moore, playing an icy Danish academic, complete with intriguing accent, means we have all the ingredients for what’s described as a ‘screwball comedy’. And, yep, there are a few chortles to be had as the eponymous plan is put in place, but its hardly lol stuff.
I will never know now what it’s like to be a panty-melter and I sure figure I never was one – not, I think, would I particularly want to be if Ethan Hawke, in his guise as Maggie’s love interest, John, is any example of that so-called class of men. He’s another academic, unhappily married to Ms Moore’s character Georgette, so he falls in love with Maggie, quickly extricating himself from his co-habitation with the preoccupied, distant older woman and his kids. But, as a life partner to Maggie and the child they make together, he’s no great shakes and our heroine soon tires of his self-centred nature. Plus, she’s become a dog’s body for him and his former wife. It’s just not on – thus a conception of a plan – which, I admit, stretches it a little in terms of believability.
I can’t say I didn’t enjoy my time spent in the company of the ensemble living complicated 21st Century lives in NYC. Greta Gerwig is always eminently watchable as our unadorned heroine, reprising her schtick from the delightful ‘Frances Ha’. And my views on the glorious Ms Moore are also well known. Ethan Hawke is intentionally frustrating in his John persona and it’s no wonder Maggie soon wants to be shot of her panty-melter. So if Woody Allen is also your thing, give ‘Maggie’s Plan’ a spin on your DVD player, or whatever, sometime soon.
Trailer for Maggie’s Plan = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbJ49IUyCcA