You know, during a hectic, brain-numbing summer movie season such as this one, there are some things you would never expect to see at the multiplex. One of them is witnessing Meryl Streep giving oral sex—or attempting to give it—to Tommy Lee Jones in a movie theater.
But that's exactly what goes down (sorry about that) in Hope Springs, a refreshingly mature romantic comedy-drama that almost feels like one big eff-you to those who think movies about old people can't stomp with the big dogs during these summer months. (Actually, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has already proven that not to be true. I just like this movie more.)
The Oscar-winning stars of this film play Kay and Arnold, a couple with 31 years of marriage under the belt. They've also drifted apart to the point where they're now sleeping in separate rooms. When Kay wants to get close again with her cranky husband, she pays for them to fly to a Maine town called Great Hope Springs, where they go through an intense marriage-counseling program helmed by the perpetually understanding Dr. Bernard Feld (Steve Carell, in perhaps his most subtle performance ever).
Even if you're not at the age of Streep and Jones, it is fun seeing them get down and dirty as stiff, old fogeys who have to learn to be intimate with one another once again. As with the theater sexcapade, this mostly happens in the most awkward and amusingly clumsy of fashions.
Their lived-in middle-aged chemistry—Jones' hilariously uncomfortable slow burns and Streep's continually flustered reactions mesh quite well here—keeps this movie, which has Streep reuniting with her The Devil Wears Prada director David Frankel, from becoming a bland, whitebread affair (in short, a David Frankel movie). I won't reveal if these two adult learners rekindle the flame they thought was out long ago. But I will tell you this: I never thought seeing Meryl Streep pull an Alanis Morissette would be one of the highlights of my summer.
This article appeared in print with the headline "Dream lovers."