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Ben Younger's shallow comedy-drama about the perils of intergenerational, mixed-faith romance in densely populated Manhattan — where everyone is in everyone else's business and your therapist just might turn out to be your boy toy's yiddishe mama — returns to the played-out vein of Jewish stereotypes strip-mined by Philip Roth. Therapist Lisa Metzger...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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Ben Younger's shallow comedy-drama about the perils of intergenerational, mixed-faith romance in densely populated Manhattan — where everyone is in everyone else's business and your therapist just might turn out to be your boy toy's yiddishe mama — returns to the played-out vein of Jewish stereotypes strip-mined by Philip Roth. Therapist Lisa Metzger (Meryl Streep) runs her practice from a cozy office adjacent to the rambling Upper West Side apartment where she raised her family. Teenage daughter Dinah (Naomi Aborn) still lives at home, but restless 23-year-old aspiring artist David (Bryan Greenberg) has moved in with his maternal grandparents on the Lower East Side to escape his mother's protective hovering. With Lisa's professional support, 37-year-old fashion stylist Rafi (Uma Thurman) has just escaped a loveless marriage and is rattling around her fabulous, art-filled downtown apartment, wondering if she'll ever find love again and yearning for a baby. Lisa patiently talks Rafi through her post-divorce jitters and advises Rafi to go with the flow when she reports that she's started dating a much younger man and feels like a cradle robber. Since Lisa works under her maiden name, it never occurs to Rafi that her eager young lover, David Bloomberg, might be related to her. Lisa puts the pieces together a few sessions later, but her own therapist (celebrated cookbook writer Madhur Jaffrey) advises that Lisa's first responsibility is to Rafi: The relationship is probably just a fling, and when it ends she'll need Lisa more than ever. Naturally, it blossoms into a full-fledged love affair. David moves in with Rafi, who encourages him to paint and introduces him to her art-world friends, while Lisa — who desperately wants David to marry a Jewish girl and become a professional like her friends' children — is increasingly uncomfortable with the ethical and emotional bind in which she's trapped. Writer-director Younger (who debuted with 2000's BOILER ROOM) has no evident flair for comedy: The film's broad slapstick — like Lisa's farcical contortions as she tries to avoid David and Rafi at Crate and Barrel — is just embarrassing, and the running gag about David's friend (Jon Abrahams), who punishes women who won't agree to a second date by tossing cream pies in their faces, is wretchedly unfunny. Streep's Lisa is a compendium of grating tics, but Thurman delivers a surprisingly subtle and modulated performance. The film's greatest asset, however, is its unusually authentic use of Manhattan locations: Younger clearly knows New York much better than the topography of the human heart.

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  • Released: 2005
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Review: Ben Younger's shallow comedy-drama about the perils of intergenerational, mixed-faith romance in densely populated Manhattan — where everyone is in everyone else's business and your therapist just might turn out to be your boy toy's yiddishe mama — returns… (more)

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