Alec Baldwin and Sarah Michelle Gellar suffer from literary illusions in this adaptation of The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing

Suburban Girl

on April 27, 2007 by John P. McCarthy
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Alec Baldwin's daughter-berating voicemail is a shame for many reasons, the least of which might be that it will overshadow the fine work he and Sarah Michelle Gellar do in this literary romantic comedy. Then again, the overlap between the actor's private life and his character's is uncanny, and ultimately it's unlikely the publicity will hurt the movie.

Adapted from two stories in Melissa Bank's bestselling collection The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing , the unimaginatively titled film is set in Manhattan's book-publishing circles and reads like Pygmalion meets The Devil Wears Prada . Baldwin portrays legendary editor Archie Knox, and Gellar is Brett Eisenberg, the junior editrix he takes under his wing who's the same age as his estranged daughter.

Writer/director Marc Klein forces the literary allusions, but there's plenty of apt wit, and the acting is top-notch. Baldwin excels at portraying jerks, and Gellar, while too old to convince as a 24-year-old ingenue, can carry a film. They're buttressed by theatere stalwarts James Naughton and Marian Seldes, plus a few fresh faces.

The first two acts deal with Brett's career anxiety and the May-December romance she has with divorced alcoholic Archie. Suburban Girl begins to falter when her father (Naughton) becomes ill and the romance hits the skids. Whether the ensuing schmaltz is in the short stories or was added for the screen, you miss Klein's standard yet crisp handling of material that hovers on the edge of pedantry.

Meanwhile, the lines in which Archie admits to bad parenting are downright eerie. That's not the movie's fault, of course, and you can only wish every father tried as hard to be a good parent as Klein tries to make a smart yet entertaining movie. Another regret evoked by Suburban Girl is the decline in book readership, yet the moviegoing audience is more likely to read the tabloids in which Baldwin's personal life is dissected than buy Banks' book. Distributor: No distributor set
Cast: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alec Baldwin, James Naughton, Marian Seldes, Maggie Grace, Chris Carmack, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Jill Eikenberry and Peter Scolari
Director/Screenwriter: Marc Klein
Producers: Deborah Del Prete, Gigi Pritzker and Darryl Taja
Genre: Romantic comedy
Rating: Not yet rated
Running time: 96 min.
Release date: TBD
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