The Rewrite

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The Rewrite
The Rewrite.jpg
British release poster
Directed byMarc Lawrence
Produced by
  • Liz Glotzer
  • Martin Shafer
Written byMarc Lawrence
Music byClyde Lawrence
CinematographyJonathan Brown
Edited byKen Eluto
Distributed by
Release date
Running time
106 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$4.5 million[1]

The Rewrite is a 2014 American romantic comedy film written and directed by Marc Lawrence. It stars Hugh Grant as a washed-up screenwriter who begins teaching at a state university and Marisa Tomei as a single mother with whom the screenwriter finds romance. It began development at Castle Rock Entertainment in October 2012, and filming began in New York in April 2013.

The Rewrite premiered at a gala screening at the Shanghai International Film Festival on June 15, 2014. The theatrical release in the United States was on February 13, 2015.[2]

Plot Summary[edit]

Keith Michaels (Hugh Grant) is a divorced, washed-up screenwriter whose only successful work was Paradise Misplaced, which won the Best Screenplay Award fifteen years ago. Desperate and low on funds after a prolonged period of unsuccessful pitching, he reluctantly takes up a job teaching screenwriting at Binghamton University in upstate New York.

Things do not go well for Keith in the beginning; he unintentionally insults fellow professor Mary Weldon (Allison Janney) with his awkward sense of humor; he strikes up a brief relationship with student Karen Gabney (Bella Heathcote) which turns sour quickly. Keith also does not believe in the concept of teaching and is uninterested in his job, as exemplified by his selecting students for his class based on appearance and dismissing them for a month.

After being overtly contested by a resentful Karen about his competence, Keith starts to devote more time and effort to coaching his students and helping them discover their passion and improve their writing; he especially finds great potential in Clem Ronson (Steven Kaplan), a sickly and socially awkward nerd, whose script quickly garners the interest of Keith’s agent, Elle. Keith also forms a bond with mature student Holly Carpenter (Marisa Tomei), a single mother of two who is in a steady but dull relationship. The two of them often disagree on their perspectives on life, where Keith believes that nothing will salvage his stagnant career or mend his relationship with his estranged son Alex, whereas Holly maintains an optimistic outlook on life and believes that with effort, talents can be developed and problems can be solved. Despite their differences, Keith finds enlightenment in Holly’s advice and makes the first move in contacting Alex.

However, Keith’s situation worsens when his outline for Paradise Misplaced II gets rejected and he faces expulsion from the school after his short-lived relationship with Karen is exposed. In deep despair, Keith gets into an argument with Holly and decides to leave the school. As a last parting gesture, he accompanies Clem to Manhattan to meet with some Hollywood film producers. Halfway through the meeting, Keith realizes how he has impacted his students and, leaving a newly empowered Clem to resume the meeting by himself, he heads back to Binghamton to save his job — which he manages to do with a heartfelt conversation with Professor Weldon. In a revelation of his renewed perspective, Keith expresses admiration for Holly’s perseverance in life and confesses his love for her. He also declines Elle’s invitation to return to Hollywood, as he has decided to stay in Binghamton to teach and write a screenplay based on his experience there; and he tells Elle not to call during class hours.

Keith is welcomed back by his students and reconciles with Karen. The film ends with Keith’s phone flashing with a voicemail from Alex.



The Rewrite is written and directed by Marc Lawrence. The project began development at Castle Rock Entertainment. In October 2012, actor Hugh Grant was cast in the film's starring role. His casting marked the fourth collaboration between Lawrence, Castle Rock, and Grant. Their previous films were Two Weeks Notice, Music and Lyrics, and Did You Hear About the Morgans?[3]

""I love Marc's stuff, and ['The Rewrite'] made me laugh," he said. "[I wasn't interested] in the sort of marketed, Hallmark, 'Valentine's Day' sense — I find that repugnant. Here, the romantic comedy part of it is only a small part; it's about this broken guy who mends himself."[4]

In November 2012, actor Marisa Tomei entered negotiations to star opposite Grant.[5] In the following March, Bella Heathcote joined the cast. Variety reported, "This film would give Heathcote some lighter material after breaking out in serious projects," referring to In Time and Not Fade Away.[6] Later in the month, Allison Janney, J. K. Simmons, and Chris Elliott joined the cast.[7]

Filming began in New York in April 2013.[8]


FilmNation Entertainment handled sales of The Rewrite's distribution in territories outside the United States.[9] The film premiered at a gala screening at the Shanghai International Film Festival on June 15, 2014.[10][11] Distributor Lionsgate scheduled the film to be released in theaters in the United Kingdom on October 8, 2014.[12]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 64%, based on 58 reviews, with an average rating of 6/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "The Rewrite's unremarkable plot is enlivened considerably by its likable cast, adding up to a comedy that coasts capably on the charms of Hugh Grant and his co-stars."[13] On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating, the film has a score 51 out of 100, based on 17 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[14]

The Hollywood Reporter's Elizabeth Kerr said The Rewrite was not groundbreaking as a romantic comedy but that "it is a pleasant diversion for fans of the form". Kerr considered the film an improvement from Did You Hear About the Morgans? (2009) and said while it was initially similar to Liberal Arts (2012) with "its aggressive academic and literary tone", it fell back on romantic comedy conventions. She found that Grant "embraces his maturity" as an older version of his typical character but that Tomei's character was "painfully underwritten". Kerr said the supporting characters would have been forgettable if the actors were not so strong.[15]


  1. ^ "The Rewrite (2016)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 2, 2016.
  2. ^ "Binghamton-set movie 'The Rewrite' to screen on campus with star Hugh Grant and director Marc Lawrence". 30 January 2015. Retrieved 10 September 2017.
  3. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (October 22, 2012). "Hugh Grant to Star in Marc Lawrence's Untitled Romantic Comedy for Castle Rock". The Hollywood Reporter.
  4. ^ Canfield, David. "Hugh Grant Says He Finds Most Romantic Comedies 'Repugnant' at 'The Rewrite' Premiere - IndieWire". Retrieved 10 September 2017.
  5. ^ Foreman, Liza (November 21, 2012). "Marisa Tomei Could Get Romantic With Hugh Grant in 'Untitled Marc Lawrence Project'". The Wrap. Retrieved July 16, 2013.
  6. ^ McNary, Dave (March 7, 2013). "Bella Heathcote Back to School in Laffer". Variety.
  7. ^ Cox, Gordon (March 27, 2013). "J.K. Simmons, Chris Elliott Join Hugh Grant Comedy". Variety.
  8. ^ Hanna, Beth (April 17, 2013). "Hugh Grant's Return to Rom-Com, Untitled Marc Lawrence Film, Goes Into Production". Indiewire. Retrieved July 17, 2013.
  9. ^ McNary, Dave (January 23, 2013). "FilmNation to handle Marc Lawrence comedy". Variety.
  10. ^ Frater, Patrick (June 4, 2014). "Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, Jackie Chan Among Stars Set to Shine at Shanghai Festival". Variety. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
  11. ^ "The 17th Shanghai International Film Festival – Schedule of Shanghai International Film Festival". Shanghai International Film Festival. Archived from the original on July 23, 2011. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
  12. ^ Jagernauth, Kevin (August 28, 2014). "Watch: First Trailer For Rom-Com 'The Rewrite' Starring Hugh Grant And Marisa Tomei". The Playlist. Indiewire. Retrieved August 30, 2014.
  13. ^ "The Rewrite (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 29, 2016.
  14. ^ "The Rewrite reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved October 2, 2016.
  15. ^ Kerr, Elizabeth (June 18, 2014). "'The Rewrite': Shanghai Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 19, 2014.

External links[edit]