When 37 year-old New Yorker Rafi (Thurman) falls for 23 year-old David (Greenberg), she confides in her therapist (Streep), trying to work out if a toy boy is what she really wants.
“It’s not funny,” protests David (Bryan Greenberg) to his prankster friend in Prime’s opening scene, a statement that’s prescient of the film as a whole. Billed as a romantic comedy, it rarely makes humorous work of time-honoured comic staples, from custard pie-throwing to identity misunderstandings. Why? An unclear tone, for starters: this is caught somewhere between earnest relationship drama and farcical family comedy, but never feels truly confident in either mode.
Uma Thurman, Greenberg and Meryl Streep offer up amiable, well-rounded characters whose interactions are often well-observed. But while they may be easy to relate to, they’re too normal to be funny in the way the Meet The Parents-style set-up demands. One or two therapist-client scenes between Lisa (Streep) and Rafi (Thurman) amuse, but the dynamic between the two is underworked.
The relationship between David and Rafi is believable, yet there’s little in the way of heart-stopping romance after the first few dates. Once the key revelation is out of the way, we start to wonder exactly what we’re meant to be waiting for: the relationship to succeed or to end? Do we really want to be hand-held through an average coupling, step by step? By taking the audience on a string of uneventful dates, Prime only manages to make us into bored gooseberries and occasional voyeurs.
This has the raw material for a decent rom-com, but the aimless structure and ambiguous tone undermine both humour and romance.