Reel Projections, Friday December 5

Harvey makes a scene at the airport and tosses his luggage in the trash. Not funny. Clowns on fire: hilarious. Dumping your precious belongings: a waste.

While on the plane, Harvey experiences some turbulence, which is a metaphor for "your life is about to get royally fucked." Sure enough, he's fired over the phone by his bald-headed, bearded weasel boss. Non-ELO music ends, replaced by a mournful guitar. Harvey’s daughter informs him that she wants Wings of Gold to give her away at her wedding. I told you it was a metaphor.

Bitter about his new status as an unemployed delinquent father, Harvey does the only respectable thing and orders a stiff drink. Perhaps because she hasn’t had a stiff one in years, Emma Thompson passes a snide remark. Harvey ripostes, apologizes, tells her his sad story and asks her out to lunch. She accepts, thus perpetuating one of at least two myths of dating: that you can get pussy by 1) telling a sob story or 2) by being a single guy with a dog. "Oh, look, he's the outdoorsy type who's devoted to his dog! I'll bet he could feel that way about me!"

Harvey offers to carry Emma’s books, making me think she’s either a lonely teacher or a lonely student. I’m hoping it’s a lonely teacher, because in filmdom, there’s only one lonely female student.

Emma takes a call from her mom; tells her she’s “out.” With a man. Mom is surprised and presses the issue, (though it’s not clear whether it’s because she thinks her daughter is a lesbian, a spinster or a psycho bitch out for man-blood). Kudos to Emma for maintaining her icy British demeanor and not tossing her phone in the river. That attention-whoring, luggage-tossing Harvey would have probably leapt over fucking the bridge.

Harvey invites Emma to his estranged daughter’s wedding reception. That’ll show the bitch — Daddy’s got a brand new baby girl! Emma protests that she has nothing to wear, so he buys her a hot little black number.

At the reception, Harvey and daughter give each other a knowing look from across the room and share a last dance before he moves on to the new woman in his life.

And we wrap up the happy tale with Harvey saying something cute and annoying. “Oh shut up, Harvey,” Emma responds. Two observations: 1. With this line, the trailer has removed any remaining shred of mystery as to whether the leads will live happy ever after. 2. This is pretty good advice. You should always tell someone you've just met to "shut up." If he/she can put up with your intolerance, they're a keeper.

I should also mention that this trailer features a Voice-Over Guy who periodically interrupts with sage advice like, “It’s never too late to change your life,” and “But you never know what tomorrow will bring.” As he speaks, his words also slide across the screen. Not only do I not like trailers that telegraph obvious plot points, but combining it with sliding text only makes me think of one thing: Glen & Gary & Glen Ross, which makes better use of trailer text. Way the fuck better.

Cranky verdict: Big ups to the trailer editor, who displays admirable contempt for the source by condensing Last Chance Harvey down to two and a half minutes, while leaving not a single plot point unresolved. The pseudo-“Mr. Blue Sky” was clearly there to add insult to injury. Bravo.

Every Friday, Reel Projections welcomes the Cranky Copy Editor to review one trailer from an upcoming film. Take it away, CCE …

This week’s movie is Last Chance Harvey, starring Emma Thompson and, as best I can tell, k.d. lang. OK, it's really Dustin Hoffman, but looking rather taut at 71. Anyway, the only other actor of note in the trailer was James Brolin (Hotel, Pensacola: Wings of Gold)

Right out of the gate, Harvey is hurrying to an airport backed by some peppy “Mr. Blue Sky”-esque music. I say “esque” because after a few stabs of the piano keys, it becomes clear we’re the victim of an unforgivable bait-and-switch: You don’t tease your audience with an ELOish song and not at least give them a few bona fide bars. Is it too much to ask for “Sun is shining in the sky, there ain’t a cloud in sight?” Horribly cliché? You bet. Perfectly suited to a light, frothy rom-com? Absolutely.

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