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Flix at :48: What Happens Later

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Movie release poster for the comedy drama film What Happens Later
Theatrical release poster

For the beginning of this review, I'm going to say something I never thought I would say voluntarily: "Meg Ryan is back in movie theaters across the country." And now that I've seen her new film, What Happens Later I can confidently say, "Nice try, Meg Ryan. Please go away and come back to theaters with something good."

What Happens Later is adapted from the play Shooting Star first produced in 2008 and written by prolific playwright and theater director Steven Dietz. This man is a co-screenwriter for this film which you think would help keep it from avoiding a fiasco of indecisiveness, but What Happens Later ends up a mess.

When two former lovers accidentally cross paths in a small airport while trying to reach their different connecting flights, they immediately start talking to catch up....because, "Why not?" This conversation soon turns to rehashing old relationship wounds mixed with complaints of spoiled younger generations and complaints of declining music. Directed by Meg Ryan, who co-wrote the screenplay and serves as executive producer, What Happens Later overzealously vacillates between a sassy romantic comedy and a new age spiritual dramedy about serendipity and forgiveness.

This film has only two people on screen the entire time who are forced to go through the entire range of human emotion together in one night while trapped in an airport with a blizzard blowing outside. A third character is included as a thinly-veiled God figure making airport announcements in a calm voice. But this voice only exists to nudge the wandering man and woman closer together to finally reach catharsis.

Because this film tries to lead viewers through so many different emotional hoops in a one hour and 43 minute run-time, What Happens Later is not emotionally engaging at all. It's also not emotionally realistic or creative.

Meg Ryan hasn't acted in a film since 2015 (in a period drama called Ithaca which she also directed). No wonder she gives such an excitable hyperactive performance. This performance could work in such a plucky, schmaltzy film. But Meg Ryan's opposite, played by David Duchovny (The X-Files: I Want to Believe, 2008), acts like he can barely be bothered to even sit in front of the camera and speak.

Why does a film have to be so schizophrenic but with such juvenile, rushed dialogue? What Happens Later can't decide what kind of film it wants to be. But you know what I've decided? It's time for dinner!

Casey T. Allen is a native of Utah who graduated from Utah State University with a Bachelor's degree in English in 2007. He has worked in many capacities throughout USU campus and enjoys his time at UPR to continually exercise his writing.