Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

Last Chance Harvey


Review by Matthew Starr

It’s always a pleasure to see two acting giants work together, especially two with such long and illustrious careers as Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson.  If you remember, these two luminaries co-starred with Will Ferrell in Stranger Than Fiction, and felt they had chemistry (although Marc Forster didn’t utilize it in that film).  But now, Hoffman and Thompson are front and center as top billers in Last Chance Harvey.

Harvey Shine (Hoffman) is based in New York, and writes music for commercials; you know, those songs that stick in people’s heads such as that annoying Subway $5 footlong jingle).  As he boards a plane to London to attend the wedding of his daughter – with whom he has had a rocky relationship since he and her mother divorced – he learns that he has lost his job.  And from there, Murphy Law’s just keeps on coming for poor old Harv.

When he arrives in London, his daughter lets him know that her stepfather will walk her down the aisle instead of him; he subsequently has a fight with his ex-wife, causing him to miss his plane back to New York. However, at the airport bar, he chats up a woman named Kate Walker (Thompson), who slowly takes a liking to him. Like Shine, Kate is having life problems of her own. She is smothered by her work, can’t seem to find a good guy and is continually pestered by her mother.

The story is comedic at times, and quite involving, but not to the extent it could have been or that I personally would have hoped. Emma definitely outshines (no pun intended) Hoffman in this film, as I have certainly seen a lot better from him. I feel Emma Thompson, as good as she has been in the past, really is getting better with age, as most female actors are forced to do once they hit middle-age.  She is really the heart and soul of this film.

The chemistry between the two certainly has a natural feel to it but the film never really takes any chances and is rather anti-climactic. There are no noticeable flaws in Last Chance Harvey, but with the quality of films coming out in December a movie has to do more than just play it safe. This film, although satisfactory, will definitely not stand out among its peers during the holiday season.

3 / 5 stars

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