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‘Hope Springs' barely floats

Movie Review: “Hope Springs”
Oklahoman Published: August 8, 2012

No film starring Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones as a married couple should come within range of being boring. But in director David Frankel's “Hope Springs,” these two masters spend most of this rote marriage counseling melodrama grasping for the dramatic hook that will make Kay and Arnold Soames interesting, rather than just a midlife couple coasting blandly on the romantic skids.

With the kids grown and moved on, Arnold and Kay are spending the last years before retirement living separately in their practical, split-level Omaha, Neb., home. Arnold falls asleep every night in a recliner, watching the Golf Channel, before retiring to a second bedroom while Kay stares at the ceiling in the master suite. He's grouchy, distant and flinches at affection. She's unassertive and lets him get away with it all, but Kay experiences a mild, almost imperceptible breaking point and buys a marriage counseling getaway package in Hope Springs, a seaside community in Maine where the economy is seemingly built around the practice of Dr. Bernard Feld (Steve Carell).

If Dr. Feld were dispensing genius counseling worthy of a 2,000-mile flight, this might all make sense. But Carell's character is not much of a guru despite the gushing praise given by the clients and admiring townspeople milling around Kay and Arnold at every restaurant and store. Feld simply tells them to touch each other, try some sexual adventure or any sex at all. Arnold complains constantly about being overcharged by a charlatan, and while the husband's muttering and compulsive cheapness border on inexcusable, his point is not far off the mark.

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