Neither Prime, Nor Choice, But Below Standard
Release Date: October 28, 2005
Starring: Uma Thurman, Meryl Streep,
Bryan Greenberg, Jon Abrahams,
and Annie Parisse
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Audience: Older teenagers to adults
Rating: PG-13 for sexual content
including dialogue, and for
Runtime: 100 minutes
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Director: Ben Younger
Executive Producer: Bob Yari
Producer: Jennifer Todd and Suzanne Todd
Writer: Ben Younger
Address Comments To:Bob Wright, Chairman/CEO
Ron Meyer, President/COO
Stacey Snider, Chairman
100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, CA 91608-1085
Phone: (818) 777-1000
Web Page: www.universalstudios.com
Rafi (Uma Thurman) has begun seeing an analyst in the wake of her divorce. She complains that she is unhappy and has no prospects. By chance she meets David (Bryan Greenberg), who can barely work up the nerve to call and ask her out. He wins her over with his nervous charm, and their first date is a success. Rafi reports back to her analyst (Meryl Streep) that she is more excited than she could have expected, and she even supplies some details from her reawakened sex life. What neither Rafi nor her analyst know yet is that David is the analyst’s son.
Two dramas unfold. How Lisa, the analyst, should handle the conflict between her client and her family, and if Rafi and David can overcome their 14-year age gap. Most of the comedy in this romantic comedy comes out of the former situation, as Meryl Streep is unsurprisingly adept at playing the kvetching Jewish mother who wants her son to date and marry inside the faith. The scenes in which Rafi unwittingly tells David’s mother about his sexual performance are probably supposed to be the comedic highlight, but they hew too closely to the over-the-top ground already staked by MEET THE PARENTS.
Rafi and David go through the same troubles that older women and younger men always face in movies: he feels alienated by her intelligent friends, she doesn’t like his immature friends, and she doesn’t understand his culture (which arrives in the form of a Nintendo). The movie would like to stretch and add up to more than its formula provides, but writer/director Ben Younger appears to have a tin ear and can’t create truthful or complex characters.
The dating couple seek a slippery notion of happiness – not joy that is permanent, but excitement that is fleeting. They indulge in affairs and sleepovers without any forethought. What’s promising, however, is when Rafi makes a conscious, considered decision at the movie’s end to stop their relationship before they grow more attached. She wants to start a family, and she knows that David is not ready. It’s a nice surprise to see her make a rational, intelligent decision. Of course, if she made rational, intelligent decisions all of the time, there wouldn’t be a movie.
In light of Rafi and David’s ineffective search for happiness, PRIME contains some sexual dialogue that is too frank for young audiences. It also normalizes behavior that is immoral for both committed Christians and Jews, like cohabitation and sexual promiscuity.
Its aspirations may be high, but PRIME just skims the surface. The characters want such simplistic things from each other, like attention and sex, and the way that the movie develops the central relationship is just as artless, constructed of clichés and lazy writing. Furthermore, little attention is paid to detail during production, as the boom microphone fell into the frame at least ten times. Everything about PRIME says that it was botched.
PRIME is spoiled by lackluster writing and sexual permissiveness. The dating couple seeks a slippery notion of happiness, not permanent joy but fleeting excitement. They indulge in affairs without any forethought. In light of that, PRIME contains sexual dialogue that is too frank for young audiences. It also normalizes behavior that is immoral for committed Christians and Jews, like cohabitation and sexual promiscuity. Eventually, Rafi makes a wise decision that is pro-family, but PRIME is still a shallow, botched entertainment.