Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Maggie's Plan [2015]

MPAA (R)  ChicagoTribune (3 Stars)  RogerEbert.com (2 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (B)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB () review
ChicagoTribune (K. Walsh) review
RogerEbert.com (C. Lemire) review
AVClub (A.A. Dowd) review  

Maggie's Plan [2015] (directed and cowritten by Rebecca Miller along with Karen Rinaldi) continues a string of "next generation Woody Allen-esque" films that ever smiling / ever bumbling (how does she get herself into these convoluted Laurel & Hardy-like "fine messes"?) actress Greta Gerwig (playing here the lead of role of Maggie) is associated with.

Over the years of my blog, I've honestly _loved_ Greta Gerwig in her roles since first seeing her in the LOL (! ;-) _funny_ DEFINITELY _not_ "in distress" role of a hardworking / _earnest_ (but if need be _ruthless_ "one must keep the proper order of things...") leader of a thoroughly _random_ girls' clique at some random "small Liberal Arts College" somewhere in the North East in Damsels in Distress [2011].  In subsequent roles -- Lola Versus [2012], Frances Ha [2014], Mistress America [2015] (America's fun / lively, wonderful even _super-heroic_ "girl on the side ..." ;-) -- she's played "Woody Allen" roles (if one could imagine Woody Allen as an ever smiling, somewhat curvy (_not_ "fat" but definitely _not_ "anorexic" either) 20 or 30-something, generally blonde, young woman), who's _always_ studying for / has a degree in some _absurdly specialized field_ at/from some NYC based college / university.

In the current film, Gerwig's Maggie is a late 20-early 30-something adjunct professor at the City College of New York with a Masters in / teaching "Arts Marketing" and is introduced to us explaining her relational / reproductive dilemma to Tony (played by Bill Hader) who's half of the only VBFFs she has in the world -- Tony's wife Felicia (played by Maya Rudolph) is the other half of her _tiny_ circle of friends.  Her dilemma is this: Approaching 30, she's realized that she hasn't been involved in a single serious relationship that's lasted more than six months, and yet she'd really like to have a kid.  Not trusting the veracity of the CVs left by the donors at a typical sperm bank, she's literally found "A Guy" a former acquaintance named _Guy_ (played wonderfully throughout by Travis Fimmel) -- a bearded "granola-people" looking hipster who gave up on studying for a doctorate in mathematics to start a business making / selling "craft pickles" ;-) -- who's "fine with" leaving her "a load" (of his sperm) in a specimen cup for said purpose (of creating a kid) ESPECIALLY (to his relief) after she explained to him that she'd be fine with, even PREFER, him NOT having ANY RESPONSIBILITY for the child produced afterwards.  Why would a "slacker" former PhD Mathematics student turned "craft pickle entrepreneur" be "the perfect father" for her chid?  Well, at least she "really knows" who he is and comes with no (further) surprises ;-).

So that's "the plan" ... what could possibly go wrong? ;-)

Well, for starters, even as she's putting this relatively simple plan into motion ... Guy loses the first specimen cup ... she runs into and contrary to her best judgement gets progressively involved with "John" (played by Ethan Hawke) another adjunct professor at said CCNY campus, in "Ficto-Critical Anthropology" (yes, the field actually exists but it's "Postmodernist" boundaries are so vaporous that it's a field that one could study / write about apparently next to _anything_ -- from fiction to non, from poetry to critical essays).   When John appears on the scene, he's married to (as he describes her) a true "icy queen" named Georgette (played wonderfully by Julianne Moore) from some random Nordic/Germanic land (who amusingly proves absolutely incompetent at almost every winter sport / outdoor activity).  In actuality, if certainly quite "socially challenged," she's a far more successful (and tenured) Professor (of Ethnology at Columbia University) than either John or Maggie.  For a brew of unspoken if obvious reasons (insecurity, professional jealousy, etc), John latches onto the amiable / less threatening Maggie and ... just as he's about to inseminate herself with her Guy's sperm (provided by him "just offsite" in a second specimen cup that she provided him with ... John shows up at her apartment, proclaiming his love for her ... and ...

... three years later, we find her ... married to John, with a cute as a button 2-something year old daughter and ... getting kinda tired of John ;-).  John's, of course, divorced Georgette to "do the right thing" / marry Maggie.   His two older kids (with Georgette) are still rather confused / resentful about it all.  The ever very socially limited Georgette has of course taken the opportunity to write a characteristically hugely successful (both academically and commercially) if absolutely scathing "scholarly critique" of marriage (_her_ former marriage) and more specifically _husbands_ / her former husband) as a result ;-).  Yet at the end of the day both John and Georgette have taken to using the younger Maggie as a "go to" / de facto nanny for (all) the(ir) kids.

"Too bad you can't just give John back to his first wife..." says, offhandedly, Maggie's friend Felicia, the other half of her BBF couple introduced above, and ... that's where Maggie gets into her head the second half of "her plan."  A few years wiser now, "What could go wrong (again)?"  The rest of the film ensues ... ;-) 

Yes, to many / most readers of my blog, Catholic after all, the moral choices of these 20-30 something characters seem almost "extra-terrestrial."  And yet, actually, the story becomes almost a defense of (and certainly an invitation to a second look at) traditional morality.  Look at the veritable Pandora's Box that one opens when one starts "messing with the rules." ;-)

Anyway, PLEASE DON'T LIVE LIKE THIS but certainly it's a fun and even insightful movie to watch / reflect on ;-)

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  1. Although this movie is against my moral(?) values(?), I'll give it a try...

  2. The ideas are quite "out there" / against Catholic Moral Teaching. On the other side, _except_ for the ideas being discussed (artificial insemination, divorce / adultery) the presentation is actually quite sober: Far more is discussed (in the dialogue) than shown (on the screen).