Sunday, August 21, 2016

Video review: "Maggie's Plan"

A smart and sharp comedy with a streak of insightful social commentary, “Maggie’s Plan” is the latest starring Greta Gerwig, the current queen of indies. Writer/director Rebecca Miller fashions a story that’s funny, sad -- even enraging at times – about the conflicting choices young women face these days.

Maggie is an accomplished woman who has a great job, great friends (Bill Hader and Maya Rudolph) and an overall wonderful life. The one thing she’s lousy at his relationships. But she hears the tick-tick-tick of that biological clock, and determines to have a baby on her own. She arranges a donor and seems headed for a life of bliss as a mother.

But then she falls for John (Ethan Hawke), a brilliant but troublesome academic who wants out of his miserable marriage to Georgette (Julianne Moore), a domineering type. Flash forward a couple of years, and Maggie now has a wondrous little girl, takes care of John’s kids… and John, too. He’s writing a novel that will never be finished, and Maggie finds herself burdened with an extended family she didn’t really plan on.

So she hatches a scheme to get John and Georgette back together. He’s like a car she bought that, showing a bunch of knocks and pings once it got down the road a bit, she’s looking to trade into the dealership.

“Maggie’s Plan” is very funny, with wonderful performances by the three main actors. Mina Sundwall also is terrific as John’s teenage daughter, who knows a lot more about what’s going on than the adults do.

But the film goes the extra mile to explore these people and their confounded relationships, and question whether having a spouse is really necessary to a rewarding life as a parent.

Bonus features are decent. Miller provides a feature-length audio commentary track; there are funny outtakes; a Q&A at the Sundance Film Festival; and a making-of documentary short.



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