This film should have come with an expiration date. It is a romantic comedy premised on the notion that an American college kid would be infatuated enough with the images of a British Royal, that he would drop his life and transfer to Oxford University. This is a film dependent on the tabloid coverage of a distant royal, that a kid in the U.S. has to eat up through women’s magazines in the early 80s. Princess Caroline, your life is calling.
I like Rob Lowe and he has grown to be an effective actor, but this was a performance from his callow youth and it is not something to be very proud of. The fault is not entirely his, he has been given an unlikable character to play. The point of the story of course is that the character is supposed to grow, unfortunately he grows more annoying.
Sometimes memory is cruel to us. We hold onto faults and disappointments rather than the minor little victories and joys that we experience all the time and let slip by. “The Hotel New Hampshire” is one of those brutal memories for me. The film was based on one of my favorite books and it starred a good cast headed by Jodie Foster. My reaction to it at the time was weak and over the years has gotten more antagonistic. The return to the movie for this project was not expected to be a happy one. Imagine my surprise that instead of a malignant tumor of a film, I found a flawed but mostly sincere interpretation of the book that I love.
If you have read any of John Irving’s novels, you know that they are full of prostitutes, wrestling, bears and frequently Vienna. The characters are oddballs and have major sexual hangups of some sort or other. In spite of how off putting some of the characteristics are, Irving usually manages to get us to care for them before he tortures us with their fates. A John Irving story is not going to end on a happy note, although there will be happy moments along the way.