Great Hope Springs

It’s quite convenient that David Frankel’s Hope Springs kicked its original title – Great Hope Springs – because such a tiny edit saves the film from a rash of mocking spins on its name. Just Okay Hope Springs. Totally Adequate Hope Springs. Hey, Not So Bad Hope Springs. The film, which centers on the crumbling marriage of Kay (Meryl Streep) and Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones) and their apparent last ditch effort to save it by way of an intensive relationship workshop with therapist Dr. Feld (Steve Carell), is perfectly acceptable stuff, but it’s by no means “great” and it’s not nearly as frank, honest, and mature as it would like to be. Instead, it’s a gentle enough take on the romantic comedy for the older set that struggles to find its tone and aim, before settling into something that’s strangely pleasing and oddly compelling. Hope Springs is both a rare bird (how often do we see mature studio films that examine faltering marriages and place importance on the value of lovemaking?) and a strange duck (how many films about faltering marriages encourage a first act of chuckles and titters before dropping the emotional boom, and repeatedly?).

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