Charles Webb remains best known for his 1962 debut novel "The Graduate", famously filmed in 1967 with Dustin Hoffman. He has not exactly been prolific since, but the proceeds from this adaptation of his 2001 book "New Cardiff" - his first in 25 years - will no doubt make his reclusive life in Brighton a little bit more comfortable.
Named after the picturesque New England town in which it's set ("18,459 people live in Hope" reads a sign), "Hope Springs" tells of an English illustrator called Colin (Colin Firth) who - heartbroken at being dumped by his fiancée Vera (Minnie Driver) - heads to America to start again.
Colin's matchmaking landlady Joanie (Mary Steenburgen) introduces him to "trained care-giver" Mandy (Heather Graham), who soon breaks through his English reserve with a combination of vivacity, nudity, and alcohol. But when Vera arrives requesting a reconciliation, he is forced to make a difficult decision.
It's a dilemma most warm-blooded men would kill to face - horny Heather or Minnie the Minx? - and the love triangle throws up some amusing situations that compensate for the numerous lapses in logic and pacing.
Firth's character may be something of a pill to begin with, but once he lightens up, he emerges as a deft and affable leading man.
It's also good to see supporting roles filled by such reliable talents as Steenburgen and Oliver Platt, a hoot as Hope's venal mayor.
All in all, a date movie that's well worth making a date with.