Not without extreme difficulty, she somehow persuades Arnold to visit a marriage counselor (a misused Steve Carell, Crazy, Stupid, Love.) in another town for a week of intensive therapy — good for their relationship, bad for the viewer, for whom it feels like sitting in sessions in real time.
At nights, in their room at the EconoLodge (and sometimes in public), the couple is to "sexercise." With nonexplicit scenes of Meryl pleasurably masturbating or performing oral sex on Jones in a movie theater, Hope Springs plays like softcore porn for those who line up at 4 p.m. at Furr's for "supper."
I'm all for Hollywood gearing entertainment directly to the 55-and-up set, but they deserve better than this, which reunites Streep with her The Devil Wears Prada director, David Frankel, to lesser effect. With Streep making a couple of oh-so-slight glances to the camera and squeezing a roll of cookie dough, the material hardly qualifies as smart or as funny as it insists it is. —Rod Lott