Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day stays in your memory like soda bubbles on your lip because it’s just as fizzy, confectionary, and neutral to your health. It’s the most “nothing movie,” as Billy Wilder said of The Seven Year Itch, but today that reminds me so achingly of the frivolous oldies that I can’t help but swoon.
Christophe Gans admirably refers to Jean Cocteau’s 1946 La Belle et La Bête while presenting a version of the fairytale that should read as authentic even to those who have only seen the Disney one. What he does not do is capture the original’s symbolic poetry or frame the old pieces in such a way that their retelling is a revelation.
At the core of the Sandler character is an unwillingness to be stepped on, a rebellious energy merely playacting as perverted. His films have never taken notice of him, but it seems like we’ve been doing it all along. And Anderson, a Sandler fan first, saw an old-timey romance at the center of a geek’s just rage at a society in which he doesn’t fit.