Written by: Julia Siegel
Quirky, charming, and comedic is the best way to describe Maggie’s Plan. The smart script, A-list cast, and awkward situations make this film a true winner. Maggie’s Plan probably has the best cast of any of the films playing at the Montclair Film Festival. The cast includes Greta Gerwig, Ethan Hawke, Julianne Moore, Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph, and Travis Fimmel.
The film should have been titled Maggie’s Plans (plural) because Maggie (Gerwig) has multiple plans that all go south throughout the film. First, she decides that she wants to have a baby on her own. She decides to have an old friend from college, Guy (Fimmel), be her sperm donor, with no strings attached. As her first idea plays out, Maggie meets a scatterbrained teacher that works in the same school as her. John (Hawke) and Maggie quickly become more than friends, even though he is married. John’s marriage to narcissistic Georgette (Moore) is crumbling, and cracks even faster as he makes a move to be with Maggie.
The film jumps ahead three years to find Maggie and John happily married with their toddler. It appears that Maggie has gotten the best of both worlds, yet she still isn’t happy. She confides in her best friends (Hader and Rudolph) that she wants out of her marriage, but doesn’t want to leave John. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, Maggie draws up a crazy idea that might just get her life back in order. The hilarity of the story is that no matter what Maggie does, nothing works out like she though it would.
Maggie’s Plan is filled with incredibly awkward situations and conversations that are hilarious. The audience loved how quirky the characters were, as everyone was laughing throughout the whole film. It isn’t your traditional comedy where you know when the laughs are coming. The best part of Maggie’s Plan is that you don’t know when a random one-liner or weird glance will make you laugh due to the ridiculousness of the situation. The story plays out like a Woody Allen film, which really worked for the context of the story. Woody Allen’s films can be serious with a funny undertone. Maggie’s Plan is very similar, yet was probably meant to be a bit funnier than a Woody Allen film.
The story actually tricked me into thinking that a majority of the film was a dream. There’s a weird split between the years the story takes place in, making me think that it would all circle back to Maggie having a dream about what her life could be or her realizing that she was making a mistake in sleeping with John. I would have preferred if the film had gone in that direction because it would have made a clean, tidy ending. I felt the way it ended was too choppy and left a lot unsaid. It doesn’t clean itself up like most films do, which I thought was weird. However, it still matched the overall tone of the story and was quirky enough to work.
Maggie’s Plan is the perfect example of finding a gem at a film festival. This film is going to do very well in the independent film circuit. It definitely has a particular brand of comedy that isn’t for everyone, but is a very entertaining film. It’s more than a funny chick-flick, which should appeal to a lot of people. Maggie’s Plan will be hitting theaters on May 20th.