Meet Cute

Posted on September 21, 2022 at 7:59 pm

B +
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: NR
Profanity: Very strong language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Drinking, scenes in bar, drugs
Violence/ Scariness: Comic violence, attempted suicide and suicidal ideation
Diversity Issues: BIPOC characters used solely as guides for white characters
Date Released to Theaters: September 21, 2022

Copyright 2022 Peacock
As anyone who has seen “The Holiday” knows, movies love the “meet cute.” In “The Holiday,” Eli Wallach plays a screenwriter from the 1940s who tells Kate Winslet that a “meet cute” is where there is something awwww-some about the way the couple we’ll be rooting for first see each other. The example he gives is a man and woman meeting at a store when he is trying to buy just the bottom half of a pair of pajamas and she is trying to buy just the top half. That’s a real movie, by the way. It has a cute title, too: “Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife.”

The term takes on extra dimension in this new rom-com, a time-traveling dimension. We may think that Sheila (Kaley Cuoco) and Gary (Pete Davidson) are meeting for the first time at a sports bar and that it is a charming coincidence or maybe a hint that they were meant to be together when they order the same cocktail, an old fashioned. But there are hints about what Shiela will reveal. It is the first time for Gary, but not for Sheila. She has been using a time machine in the back of a nail salon that looks like tanning bed to repeat the same night for months so she can make it perfect.

She has also been going back in time to tweak some of Gary’s earlier experiences to make him a little more perfect, too. Both Gary and Sheila had painful childhoods. She thinks if she can eliminate some of the trauma he experienced, he will be happier and..better. Apparently no one ever explained the Butterfly Effect to her. You can’t just tweak experiences and expect people to be the same. Pain is part of what makes us who we are.

This is a high-concept movie that delivers a satisfying level of insight beyond the will they/won’t they of the romance. It is likely that anyone who has ever been in a close relationship, romantic, familial, or friendship, has wondered if the other party might not be easier or wished to be able to fix something that hurt a loved one long ago.

Cuoco has already shown herself to be an actress of range far beyond her excellent work in sit-coms. Davidson was a less likely choice as he pretty much always plays himself, quite literally in his only previous lead role. They are both quite good here, as Cuoco becomes more and more honest about what is going on and about her own struggles and Davidson shows us how small changes in his past would have produced a more confident, less empathetic version.

There are some odd choices here, including Sheila’s murderous disposal of her alternate timeline versions and the only two characters of color being relegated to wise counselor roles to prop up the white couple. But the parts that work have great charm and Cuoco and Davidson are a pleasure to root for.

Parents should know that this movie has very strong language, sexual references, a light-hearted portrayal of murder and attempted murder, a less lighthearted portrayal of suicide attempt and suicidal ideation, and alcohol and drugs.

Family discussion: If you could travel through time, what would you change? Is it okay for things to be messy?

If you like this, try: “Groundhog Day,” “Palm Springs,” “About Time,” “Happy Accidents,” and “Map of a Thousand Perfect Things”

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Wow! I Attended a Taping of “Big Bang Theory”

Posted on September 6, 2012 at 8:00 am

Because I go to movies almost every weeknight, I don’t get to watch much series television, so I was late to catch on to “Big Bang Theory.” But once it went into syndication, I had a chance to catch up and I am now a huge fan.  I attended the enormous event in Hall H at Comic-Con in July (with Jim Parsons attending via computer screen from New York, where he was appearing in “Harvey” on Broadway) and a Q&A at the TV Guide stage with the show’s creators.  When my husband and I had a chance to watch the cast tape an episode, we were thrilled.  So last week we found ourselves at Warner Studios, walking by buildings on the lot with signs noting some of the productions that had filmed there — “Casablanca,” “Jezebel” and some not-so-classics — and into one that had in a frame the very napkin signed by Leonard Nimoy that led Dr. Sheldon Cooper to nearly explode with joy.  

We watched what appears to be the second or third episode of the new season.  It was enormously fun to see the sets that have become so familiar — Penny’s apartment, Sheldon and Leonard’s apartment, the university hallway and cafeteria.  And it was pure pleasure to see the cast, who were all impressively talented and professional.  We saw a couple of scenes that had been pre-taped (Howard is still in space) and one on a very bare-bones set that appeared to be run just to record the audience reaction and will be re-filmed elsewhere.  Each scene was run at least twice, with some retakes to try a new joke (we saw three different versions of one) or correct a mistake.  An emcee kept the audience’s energy level up with patter, games, and tricks (and cold pizza), and stars Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco climbed up onto the railing to greet us and thank us very graciously for our support.  The audience was filled with big fans.  A woman from CalTech assured us that she is surrounded by characters like these all the time.  And a man was wearing a t-shirt that said in big letters: KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK PENNY KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK PENNY KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK PENNY!

Mayim Bialik, who was recently injured in a car accident, had one arm in a sling and her hand and wrist in a bandage, but when they were filming she took off the sling and they shot around it.  It was fascinating to see how many people behind the scenes were involved in each shot and how the actors were able to maintain their focus and stay in character even with all of the distractions and re-shoots and changed lines.  When a newcomer appearing for the first time on the show messed up, Kaley was very kind and reassuring: “Don’t worry about it, chicka!  We all do it.”  But they did not stop to laugh when things went wrong and there was no fooling around.  Comedy can be a very serious business.    It was a very funny episode and I can’t wait to see it in final form.  Many thanks to the cast and crew and everyone at Warner’s for an evening that was enormously exciting and lots of fun.  I kinda feel about “Big Bang Theory” like the characters feel about Leonard Nimoy.  Bazinga!

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