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"PRIME"
(2005) (Uma Thurman, Meryl Streep) (PG-13)

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QUICK TAKE:
Romantic Comedy: A 37-year-old divorcee starts dating a much younger man, unaware of his unique connection to her therapist who's encouraged her to renter the dating world.
PLOT:
37-year-old Rafi Gardet (UMA THURMAN) has just gotten out of a failed, nine-year marriage with the help of her New York based therapist, Lisa Metzger (MERYL STREEP) who's encouraged her to get back into the world of dating. Little does she know that will lead Rafi straight into the arms of 23-year-old artist David Bloomberg (BRYAN GREENBERG) who isn't doing any serious dating and doesn't have a good role model in friend Morris (JON ABRAHAMS) who ends most of his relationships with a pie to the face of the unlucky woman.

At first, Rafi doesn't realize how young David is, or that he lives with his grandparents, but she quickly gets over that and the two soon become a hot and heavy item. Of course, she relates all of this to Lisa who wishes her son, who's the same age as David, would meet the right girl, as long as she's Jewish. Little do any of them realize, however, that David is Lisa's son. With Lisa being the first to learn this, she must decide how to react, especially as Rafi -- who isn't Jewish -- discusses the intimate aspects of their relationship.

OUR TAKE: 5 out of 10
Although I'm sure it's just a generalization and I have no idea if any medical or psychological tests validate its claim, but it's commonly said that men hit their sexual prime in their late teens to early twenties, while women wait until their mid thirties to early forties to do the same. Accordingly, you'd be led to believe that couples of the same age would thus miss each other by about two decades or that those in the disparate age groups would be seeking out each other.

Notwithstanding the "tadpole" phenomenon (culturally popularized by the movie of the same name), that doesn't seem to be occurring either in real life or in cinematic versions of the same. Yes, older men habitually date younger women, but the same doesn't occur that often with the genders and ages reversed, especially when the men are only barely above college graduate age.

Thus, when recent divorcee Rafi Gardet discovers in the romantic comedy "Prime" that her new boyfriend David Bloomberg is 14 years her junior, she's a bit shocked. While she thankfully doesn't deliver the trite line of owning underwear older than him, the 37-year-old does blurt out "You're a child" when she learns he's only 23. That speed bump in their romance, however, only momentarily slows down their otherwise torrid romance that she recounts to her therapist, blow by graphic blow.

The stage would thus seem to be set for a humorously romantic look at such relationships from the viewpoints of the participants and their respective friends, as well as that therapist providing some professional oversight, observations and suggestions about that. Yet, and by now, if you've seen any sort of advertisement for this film, you probably know its supposed ace-in-the-pocket twist.

And that (SPOILER ALERT) is that Rafi's therapist turns out to be none other than David's mother who practices under her maiden, professional name and has no idea the graphic sexual confessions she's been hearing concern her son. As in most such comedies, we don't either, at least initially, followed by the various, involved characters eventually learning for themselves.

That, of course, spins the film into a completely different direction, meaning it must feed from all aspects of that surprise revelation in order to sustain itself. As written and directed by Ben Younger ("Boiler Room"), it surprisingly does a decent but not spectacular job of doing that, thanks to some cute to amusing moments, good bits of smart dialogue and some rather funny performances by both the main and some supporting characters.

Chief among them is the always terrific Meryl Streep who plays the flummoxed therapist and mother who isn't sure how to react to the discovery or how to let her patient know she knows. Thus, the fun comes from watching Streep fill her character with uncomfortable dread whenever the 37-year-old opens her mouth and seems ready to discuss her and David's latest sexual escapade. While some may complain that she's playing nothing more than a stereotype of a traditional Jewish mother who only wants her son to date Jewish women, Streep gets a lot of mileage out of the character and overall setup.

As does Uma Thurman as the "older woman" who must not only contend with that, but also the eventual discovery of who she's really been blabbing to about her sex life. She and costar Bryan Greenberg have some decent chemistry together, while Jon Abrahams is present as the standard genre secondary character designed to be a goofy but funny contrast to the main relationship in terms of how he deals with romantic relationships (all of which end up with a pie in the face).

If anything, the film is entertaining for the repartee between Thurman and Streep's characters, as well as any number of other individually charming and/or funny moments. With the overall film, however, the filmmakers don't quite come up with enough fun or imaginative conflicts, aftereffects or farcical "near miss" or "mistaken identity" bits to make the premise pay off as well as one might be expecting.

That's particularly true in the third act where they apparently felt obligated to follow the usual romantic comedy route where the main couple hits a rocky patch, gets back together and such, all with the to-be-expected but clearly unnecessary montage of the decoupled lovers' separate lives.

I will say that the pic doesn't exactly end like some will be expecting and/or desiring -- thus at least putting a slight spin on the usual conclusion to such films -- but that last act is the film's weakest. Even so, there are enough enjoyable and entertaining moments and performances for "Prime" to earn a slight recommendation and the score of 5 out of 10.




Reviewed September 28, 2005 / Posted October 28, 2005


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