William H Macy plays Charlie Berns a washed up Hollywood producer about to end it all. Interrupted by his wet behind the ears nephew who has a script called 'Bill & Ben' that is based upon Benjamin Disraeli. Charlie quickly scams his way into getting funding for a new movie but instead of his nephews script he has a new one concocted that will star an action hero,(played by L.L.Cool J), and has nothing to do with the original idea.
Along the way he ropes in Meg Ryans sharp witted studio exec. and signs up Elliot Goulds 'Rabbi to the stars' as a producer.
Things take a turn for the worse as funding looks to dry up once the movies main star goes missing but an implausible happy ending ties all the pieces together.
Macy gives great value for money as the seemingly careless Charlie. Happy to use whoever he has to in order to get the movie made and bluffing his way past every obstacle except Ryan whom he falls for.
Ryan is the crowned queen of rom com and has no difficulty in balancing Macy's oddball character with a smart and likeable turn of her own. The two work well together and the spikey dialogue keeps this a long way from the usual bland rom-com chatter. There are few outright laughs as the comedy is both droll and often dark. The couple often clash and both are ruthless in their own way.
The ending may be a little contrived but it does little to spoil what is a well acted and sharply scripted film that is aimed firmly at those looking for something likeable but different. One of the most unusual points here is the speed at which the films moves along. At absolutely no point does this drag and in fact you'll need to pay close attention in order to keep up.
In the end it may be a little inconsequential and behind the edgy exterior there is a rom-com waiting to burst out but this is sharp, likeable, nicely scripted, has taut direction and Macy & Ryan combine to add depth and charm to their roles.
The picture is good with a surprising amount of very colourful scenes that are sharp and natural. The sound was never going to need to push any boundaries but dialogue is centered nicely and when needed the surround is believable and crisp. One point to bear in mind is there is no shortage of salty language throughout.
There is 1 bonus feature, a making of, it's OK but hardly groundbreaking stuff.
This delivers far more than expected and will stand up to repeated viewings. If you fancy something with a little edge and smart humour then this is well worth your time and money.