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With: Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson, Kathy Baker, James Brolin, Eileen Atkins, Richard Schiff, Liane Balaban, Michael Landes, Alex Avery, Patrick Baladi, Jeremy Sheffield, Bronagh Gallagher, Adam James, Kate Harper, Charlotte Lucas
Written by: Joel Hopkins
Directed by: Joel Hopkins
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for brief strong language
Running Time: 99
Date: 11/08/2008

Last Chance Harvey (2008)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

An American Jingle-Writer in London

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Last Chance Harvey plays like a bad Kate Hudson romantic comedy, but with much better actors. And, indeed, after the first awkward 25 minutes, Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson manage to finesse a very touching human element into the proceedings. But then the stupid ending kicks in, ruining whatever goodwill they've worked to drum up. Hoffman plays Harvey Shine, a would-be musician now reduced to writing jingles -- and even that job hangs by a thread. He visits London to attend his daughter's wedding, though she's almost a stranger and has decided to let her stepdad (James Brolin) give her away. Harvey heads straight to the bar, where he meets Kate (Thompson), and they proceed to spend the next several hours together, just walking and talking and pulling together some genuinely tender moments. The night passes and they agree to meet again at noon, and then the creaky plot starts up again, relying far too much on coincidence and supposedly humorous bad fortune. Director Joel Hopkins made a terrific film back in 2001, Jump Tomorrow, though here he doesn't appear able to conquer his own awful screenplay.

DVD Details: The 2009 DVD from Anchor Bay is mastered in 2.35:1 widescreen. It comes with a low-key commentary track by Hopkins, Thompson and Hoffman (the latter recorded separately). Not even the witty, charming Thompson -- who was apparently recovering from some sort of bug -- can inject any energy into it. Otherwise, we get a 17-minute featurette and trailers. For some reason, we get a second disc with the pan-and-scan version, and no other extras.

Best Buy Co, Inc.