If there’s one thing I appreciate, it’s heartfelt sincerity. This isn’t the most striking of films, but the honesty of it makes it very interesting. I particularly like how it avoids romantic comedy clichés. This ain’t a fluffy, commercial flick but a laid-back film which takes its time. It borrows heavily from Mike Nichols’ “The Graduate”, but it still has a voice of its own. David Schwimmer stars as Tom Thompson, a bittersweet 25 year old who’s full of potential but lacks confidence. He’s an architect just outta school who’s still looking to get a job. He has the credential, but he’s not great with job interviews. He’s still living with his mother, in the same bedroom as ever, with the bunk beds and all. Tom’s also inept with women, and what makes it even more frustrating is that all his friends are now married or engaged, while he’s an eternal bachelor.
As the movie opens, he receives a strange phone call from Mrs. Abernathy, whose son has just committed suicide. He has put Tom in his will, so she figures they must have been close and ask him to deliver the eulogy at his funeral. The thing is, Tom doesn’t even recall the guy, even though they seemingly went to the same high school. But Tom is such a nice guy that he can’t say no to the guy’s mother, so he goes along with it. Things take an odd turn when Mrs Abernathy and Tom begin lovers, filling the void in each other’s lives. To make things more complicated, a very special girl comes back in Tom’s life at the same time. She’s Julie DeMarco (Gwyneth Paltrow), the bright babe he loved in high school and still cares deeply about. He used to be too timid to tell her how he felt, but now faith is giving a second chance. So there you have it, all the main elements of “The Graduate”: the clumsy yet charming young man, the possessive older woman and the sweet younger one. The film was smartly written and sharply directed by Matt Reeves, and even though this is obviously a personal film, I’m sure many guys will relate to it. Like “Say Anything” (my favorite romantic comedy) this is about not being the big man but still having the same needs and feelings as anyone.