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Three sisters, a cad in a piece of fluff

'About Adam' about not much

Three sisters, a cad in a piece of fluff

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Lonely waitress, lovely guy

Charming ... sort of

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(CNN) -- If anybody still thinks Kate Hudson is getting too much mileage out of being Goldie Hawn's daughter, they'll be pleasantly surprised by the range she shows in "About Adam," a morally questionable little comedy in which she plays a singing Dublin waitress.

Nothing about this picture is particularly challenging, but Hudson speaks with a dead-on Irish brogue and coos a trio of American popular standards with remarkable ease. Though she's part of an ensemble, her comfortable dazzle is the highlight of an otherwise standard-issue piece of entertainment.

This is yet another story about a smooth-talking cad who manages to juggle several attractive women simultaneously. The twist: His current conquests are sisters, and one of them is getting ready to marry him.

Lonely waitress, lovely guy

Hudson plays Lucy Owens, a sweet young woman who waits tables and sings an occasional song at a popular café. Lucy bemoans the fact that she's dated a lot of boys without ever really falling in love. One day, she spies an attractive customer named Adam (Stuart Townsend). After a bit of flirting, the two go on a date.

Adam, it turns out, is a dream come true. He's quiet and sensitive, dotes on Lucy and even drives a cool Jaguar. He's the kind of guy who makes everyone he talks to feel like the most important person on the planet.

Unfortunately, he's fully aware of his magnetism, and uses it for his own gain. Shortly after linking up with Lucy, he sets his sights on her timid, scholarly sister, Laura (Frances O'Connor). Laura hasn't seen much action, as far as men go. She spends most of her time at the library, researching her thesis. Adam quickly sizes her up and starts taking advantage of her romantic longings.

The third sister, Alice (Charlotte Bradley), is in her 30's and has a child. Her husband is a food-scarfing lump, so she enjoys a bit of playful banter with her sister's much-younger boyfriend. Eventually, she begins thinking about him in a less-than-chaste manner.

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It seems that Adam can woo anybody, a concept that's verified when even the sisters' heterosexual brother (Alan Maher) starts feeling fuzzy when he's around him.

Charming ... sort of

If you're wondering what the point of all this seduction is, you may still be wondering when the movie is over. For all the ill-advised dalliances going on, you never feel like anybody is doing anything particularly damaging. Actions that can rip lives apart are treated with a bizarre sense of detachment by director Gerard Stembridge.

It's implied that Adam is freeing the spirits of his sexual partners, but that's easy to focus on when Hudson's character -- she stands to lose the most -- conveniently recedes into the wallpaper for long stretches of time.

Lucy's sisters are so ready and willing to take advantage of her, there's no reason to root for them. In the movie's production notes Stembridge says that his aim was to use "elements of betrayal and sexual immorality in unexpected ways." Well, he's accomplished that goal. His message is so unexpected, it's more like a lie than an insight.

Despite its problematic message, "About Adam" is still relatively charming.

Everyone in the cast is enjoyable -- even Townsend, though he hardly seems glorious enough to engender wholesale disloyalty among loving siblings. O'Connor takes Laura through a believable physical transformation, from stringy-haired bookworm to glowing lover. And Bradley underplays nicely as the older, supposedly wiser sister. Her character seems too clever, though, to be taken in by Adam's pretty-boy posturing. But the real draw is still Hudson. Her ubiquitous media presence makes it seem like she's been around forever. But she's only appeared in a handful of films, and she's already established herself as a sparkling comic actress.

The grace she brings to "About Adam" is more reminiscent of Gwyneth Paltrow than one-trick ponies like Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz. Surely, her gifts will be put to better use in the near future ... and for years to come.

"About Adam" contains a bit of profanity, some sex, and a very quick glimpse of nudity. Not terrible, but probably best saved for a video rental. Hudson, by the way, can really carry a tune. You don't have to squint your ears to make her sound right. Rated R. 99 minutes.

Kate Hudson wants an Oscar on her mantel, too
March 15, 2001

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