Back Shelf Beauties
by Willie Waffle

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Fall usually brings vividly colored leaves falling from the trees, football and Meryl Streep movies like The Hours, The Manchurian Candidate, and Music of the Heart, but she has seen the benefits (and money available) for participating in more comedic fare like Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events and this movie, Prime (you know she saw Meet The Parents and told her agent to get some of that money De Niro and Hoffman were vacuuming up).

Uma Thurman stars as Rafi - a workaholic thirtysomething Manhattanite in therapy with psychoanalyst Dr. Lisa Metzger (Meryl Streep). Rafi is still trying to recover from a bad marriage to a jerk (is Uma trying to say something about her former hubby, Ethan Hawke?), while Metzger is attempting to push Rafi back into the world by encouraging her to live a little and take some chances. It finally works when Rafi meets a 23-year old painter from Brooklyn, David (Bryan Greenberg), who rocks her world. Metzger is proud of Rafi's newfound romance, but gets the shock of her life when she discovers the David in question is her son, David.

Can Metzger survive her son dating her patient? Will Rafi and David find out? Can this May-December (OK, May - September) relationship work?

Prime is much funnier and entertaining when focused on the pain and awkward moments Metzger must tolerate when working with her patient, but fails when it strays far away from that plot and focuses on the relationship between Rafi and David. Sadly, Younger does a good job building up to the grand revelation that Metzger knew the true identities of Rafi and David, and has a great deal of fun torturing Metzger with Rafi's confessions of the relationship's most intimate details (stuff a Mom doesn't want to hear about her son), but it doesn't matter enough in the movie, and is treated anticlimactically as it is pushed aside to let Prime become yet another half-baked love story filled with angst.

This moment when Rafi and David discover the truth needs to be the most imaginative, exciting and funniest scene in the movie, but it falls far short of it. Worse than that, Prime becomes a confusing and boring love story where the audience isn't given good reasoning behind the fights, breakups, reunions and more (is this some case where I don't get it because I'm a guy?)

It's as if making the movie was a marathon for Younger, and he ran out of steam 2/3rds of the way through. He is able to fill Prime with wonderful dialogue, wicked religious humor and fun characters early in the film, but everything loses its snap as the movie drags on to a flat, boring, almost meaningless ending. Streep ends up relegated to the backbenches, while Thurman is forced to carry a weak plot.

Streep is hilarious as Metzger goes through all sorts of embarrassment listening to Rafi discuss details of the relationship, and as her character attempts to keep the truth hidden. She's able to create many wonderful and hilarious looks on her face from pain to shock, and engages in some good old-fashioned physical comedy to keep the truth hidden. Meanwhile, Thurman does a good job with the troubled, sometimes annoying lead, who is torn between what her heart wants, and what is most practical - until they match up and become the same thing. She is a joy to watch early in the movie when everything is working, but even Thurman can't make the last act all that interesting.

Prime could have been much better, but the good parts are enjoyable enough for a DVD rental or cable viewing.

2 Waffles (Out Of 4)

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