Hope Springs has great intentions and a spectacular cast, but unless you’re prematurely looking for some post-mid life crisis marital advice, the movie’s message will fall on deaf ears. If you feel like you may have missed something by not seeing Hope Springs yet, I wouldn’t be too concerned. Meryl Streep is brilliant as usual, Tommy Lee Jones dry, and Steve Carell funny, but you can enjoy these same actors in the numerous other movies they’ve done.
The plot aims at a much older crowd and can be difficult to relate to. The movie explores the marital highs and lows of Arnold (Jones) and Kay (Streep) while they seek counseling from the notorious Dr. Feld (Carell). If I were a woman in my 60s struggling to keep the spark alive in my marriage, Hope Springs would really hit home. As a 20-something college student, although I could appreciate the jokes, the movie didn’t have me rolling over in my seat.
Hope Springs follows the time-tested comedic formula of identifying a problem, making the problem funny and then following the leading players as they work their way out of it and into a cute ending. Only these actors could make this overdone storyline remotely interesting, and they succeed because Streep and Jones can’t help but be fabulous.
Carell is hilarious but not in the knee-slapping way I’ve come to expect. Carell underplays his role and rarely even cracks a joke. This approach actually works well for him, as his humor can often be too silly and over-the-top. In Hope Springs, the humor comes from the writing and Carell’s subtle delivery. He manages to hold his own in the company of Streep and Jones, and the writing, although cliché, is witty and playful, which gives the movie a light feel.
Set in a beautiful Maine town, the film’s great acting and uplifting ending make for a decent experience — for someone else. Don’t let me sway you though. For some folks, this movie might be worth a trip to the theater — or at least a trip to the video store in a couple of months.