A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
"Alex & Emma" is a movie about a guy who has to write a novel in 30 days in order to collect the money from his publisher to pay two gamblers who will otherwise kill him. So he hires a stenographer to take dictation, and they fall in love. But the thing is, it's a bad novel. Very bad. Every time the author started dictating, I was struck anew by how bad it was--so bad it's not even good romance fiction.
I guess I didn't expect him to write The Gambler by Dostoyevsky--although, come to think of it, Dostoyevsky dictated The Gambler in 30 days to pay off a gambling debt and fell in love with his stenographer. I just expected him to write something presentable. You might reasonably ask why we even need to know what he's writing in the first place, since the story involves the writer and the girl. But, alas, it involves much more: There are cutaways to the story he's writing, and its characters are played by Kate Hudson and Luke Wilson, the same two actors who star in the present-day story.
This other story takes place in 1924 and involves people who dress and act like the characters in The Great Gatsby . Not the central characters, but the characters who attend Gatsby's parties and are in those long lists of funny names. It might have been a funny idea for the novelist to actually steal The Great Gatsby , confident that neither the gamblers nor his publisher would recognize it, but funny ideas are not easy to come by in "Alex & Emma." Alex is played by Luke Wilson. Emma is played by Kate Hudson. He also plays Adam, the young hero of the story within the story, and she plays four different nannies (Swedish, German, Latino and American) who are employed by a rich French divorcee (Sophie Marceau), who plans to marry a rich guy (David Paymer) for his money, but is tempted by the handsome young Adam, who is a tutor to his children, who remain thoroughly untutored.
So the story is a bore. The act of writing the story is also a bore, because it consists mostly of trying out variations on the 1924 plot and then seeing how they look in the parallel story.