Despite how some people may react to his work, it has to be said that Richard Curtis has a golden touch when it comes to the British romantic comedy. If you’re ready to sneer and mistrust the rest of my opinions based on that one statement then I’d ask you to wait but a moment. In fact, wait about 98 minutes. Wait until you’ve watched Not Another Happy Ending and then see how you feel.
Because Not Another Happy Ending has enough going for it to prove a potentially enjoyable experience. it just takes all of the established rom-com elements and doesn’t mix them well enough. If Curtis can produce the finest cakes and sweet treats from his ingredients, this just ends up as the soggy, flour-paste created by someone who hasn’t even remembered to turn the oven on.
Karen Gillan stars as Jane Lockhart, a young, talented writer who finds great success with her debut novel, eventually. This is due, in no small part, to the publisher (Tom, played by Stanley Weber) who showed faith in her. The two fall out, of course. Jane falls for someone not exactly a dream man (Henry Ian Cusick). Things happen to ensure that the course of true love is as perilous as it always needs to be in such fare.
Okay, first of all, the saddest thing about Not Another Happy Ending is how it wastes such a great cast. Stanley Weber may not be the best leading man, but he’s attractive enough and tries to work well with the weak comedy. Iain De Caestecker, playing the assistant/friend of Weber’s character, is much more entertaining, as is Henry Ian Cusick (playing a man that will have people gritting their teeth and seething while also laughing at his sense of self-worth). Gary Lewis is very good, playing Jane’s father, a man who went AWOL for many years and inspired her novel, and Kate Dickie has a small role, but it’s always good to see Kate Dickie onscreen in anything. Amy Manson also does a great job, playing a fictional character from Jane’s latest novel who keeps popping up to provide unwanted attitude and advice.
The script by David Solomons is, to cut to the chase, a bit of a waste of time. Every witty line would fall completely flat if it wasn’t for the actors trying their best to convey the humour. Unfortunately, that creates a worsening effect as their extra effort ends up serving to make it all feel more strained and cringeworthy.
John McKay tries to keep things lively enough in an attempt to sweep viewers away with the charm and vibrancy of the movie, and it will certainly win over anyone who wants to see Glasgow depicted with some cheer and colour (a rare occurence in movieland), but he doesn’t do nearly enough. He’s hampered by that script, by all of the predictability of absolutely every scene and by, well, just not upping his game while creating another UK rom-com to stuff into an already overcrowded subgenre.
Top everything off with a soundtrack that’s both a) horrible and b) almost unrelenting as it accompanies montage after montage and you have a pretty film with a great cast that’s very hard to enjoy. There are one or two good moments (Jane trying to get to a pub quiz on time and the running gag of baked goods being a sign that the lady has writer’s block are highlights), but not enough to recommend it while so many better romantic comedies are churned out every month.
DIRECTOR: JOHN MCKAY
WRITER: DAVID SOLOMONS
STARS: KAREN GILLAN, STANLEY WEBER, IAIN DE CAESTECKER, AMY MANSON, KATE DICKIE, GARY LEWIS, HENRY IAN CUSICK
RUNTIME: 98 MINS APPROX