Monday, August 24, 2015

The Lazy Netflixer Review: Author’s Anonymous

by Nani Lawrence, Writing Intern

Some movies achieve greatness by telling an epic and compelling story, complete with exciting special effects. Other movies achieve it by telling realistic and relatable tales, centered on its characters. Author’s Anonymous definitely falls into the second category.

It tells a tale of a group of struggling authors. When Colette Mooney—played by Teri Polo—decides
to try her hand at book writing, her husband, optometrist and fellow aspiring writer/"idea guy" Alan (Dylan Walsh) forms the group, consisting of mostly his patients. Most of the members have certain dysfunctions in their lives that inhibit their writing process. For example, Henry Obert—Chris Klein—suffers from writer’s block (“I haven’t written in about two weeks”), and an infatuation with the new girl. Alan enters story ideas into his recorder throughout the day, but hasn’t actually written much of anything. John Butzin—Dennis Farina, in one of his final film roles—worships, and constantly compares himself to, Tom Clancy.

The newest member, Hannah Rinaldi, seemingly achieves success overnight. Played by Kaley Cuoco, she took a few writing classes in college and decided to pursue it. We learn this through a documentary interview; each member is interviewed for a related documentary. Her teacher sent pages to a friend, an agent, who signed her. She isn’t a reader, and hasn’t even heard of classics, like The Great Gatsby. It seems to be a running, “uppity” gag, among a few others, that most everyone has encountered among real-life writers. Shortly after being signed to an agent, Hannah receives a book deal for Sleeping on the Moon, to which Colette immediately shows disdain.

After the rest of the group exhibits jealousy, when many of them have been writing (and rejected) for years, Hannah decides to keep from them the fact that a movie company bought the rights to adapt her novel.  The publisher asks her to do a few re-writes. Naturally, she turns to her writing group. Hannah fully believes they played a large part in her success. She is also the only truly, wholly likeable character. This character may be a bit dim, and eventually slightly hypocritical, but at least she isn’t completely full of herself.

This film reflects reality by seemingly representing stereotypes within writing.

Compared to Henry, who reads all the classics over and over again in the hopes of better writing, Hannah relies on her ideas and natural style/technique. Basically, the dumb blonde got published based on her looks, while everyone else pays their “rightful dues.” They have wall art made up of rejection letters. They’re more pompous than their writing suggests they ought to be. But Hannah remains supportive every step of the way.

Compared to Will—Jonathan Bennett AKA “Aaron Samuels,” who thinks the sun shines from his own butt yet only keeps re-writing the same three pages—Henry is exceedingly sweet and puts in the work aside from his bout of crush-induced writer’s block.

Unlike the two extremes of the Mooney’s, who cling to a niche market and churn out crappy ideas that thankfully never make it to paper, John turns to a shady self-publishing service believing he can become a best-seller. At least he took it into his own hands.

Each character seems to be a little worse than the next, but they work for the most part. Unlike some, this reviewer appreciates somewhat awkward humor.

During her “interview,” Colette shows, and speaks about, the spot where she goes to find peace and tranquility. The Mooney’s hired workers to fix up their backyard, forcing her to shout to the camera.

Will, doing research, eavesdrops on a conversation in a diner, creepily taking notes. The women notice and call him out.

After his book is published, John sets up a book signing at the hardware store his girlfriend works at. Hours go by, with patrons maneuvering around his fold-out table. At one point, a customer’s hand-held basket even knocks over a few of his books. The group members surprise him by showing up, bearing champagne.

The movie isn’t the best thing since sliced bread, but it’s a valiant and still-entertaining effort. 
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