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Review: 'Laws of Attraction'? More like boredom

Film hits every cliche -- and the viewer over the head

By Paul Clinton
CNN Reviewer

Laws of Attraction
Pierce Brosnan and Julianne Moore play attorneys who develop a fondness for one another in "Laws of Attraction."
Julianne Moore
Pierce Brosnan

(CNN) -- The new romantic comedy "Laws of Attraction" is stuffed with every cliche in the book. It tries to emulate the great Spencer Tracy-Katharine Hepburn classics, but ends up a pale copy.

Pierce Brosnan is charming, if a bit one-dimensional, as Daniel Rafferty, a high-powered New York divorce attorney who goes toe-to-toe -- both in and out of the courtroom -- with his fellow divorce attorney Audrey Woods, played by Julianne Moore.

The plot obviously tips its pen to "Adam's Rib" (1949), which featured Hepburn and Tracy as a married couple -- both lawyers -- who found themselves fighting each other in court over a murder case.

But while that film was one of the greatest ever to explore the battle between the sexes, "Laws of Attraction," is -- unfortunately -- just a battle against boredom.

Stop me if you've heard this one before. She's an uptight control freak who does everything by the book. He's a free-wheeling gadabout who flies by the seat of his pants. In short, they are complete opposites, they hate each other at first sight and fall in love by the third act.

Enough cliches for you? Wait, there's more.

Lack of logic

Of course they find themselves on opposite sides of a highly publicized divorce case between a rich and famous rock star, Thorne Jamison, played by Michael Sheen, and his spoiled wife, Serena, played by a stick-thin, and forever pouting, Parker Posey.

The divorcing couple own a castle in Ireland, and the two lawyers find themselves jetting off to the Emerald Isle to despose the castle's staff regarding the ownership of the property. I find it doubtful that real lawyers would interview household servants to ascertain ownership, but it does explain why Moore and Brosnan signed up for the picture. Can you say free vacation in Ireland?

While in Ireland, the two get drunk and wake up the next morning wearing wedding rings! They've gotten married! Now, that's original. Check out the film "Lover Come Back" (1961) and about a dozen other movies.

Back in New York the two decide to pretend to be married so they won't look like idiots to their friends and colleagues. Way too late, people.

Now any kind of logic goes out the window as he tries to save the "marriage," because -- despite his profession -- he believes in true love. Meanwhile, she tries keep her real feelings under wraps. One moment he's cutting her dead in the courtroom, and in the very next scene he professing undying love and saying his career means nothing compared to his love for her. Say what?

All that talent for nothing

Michael Sheen plays a rock star intent on divorcing his wife in "Laws of Attraction."

This screenplay was co-written by Aline Brosh McKenna, who is -- it says in the screening notes -- a magna cum laude from Harvard University, with many other projects in development; and Robert Harling, who wrote the play and screenplay for "Steel Magnolias."

It just goes to show you there are no guarantees in the film business. You can have all the right elements with two very good actors, and screenwriters with a great track record and still turn out an almost unwatchable movie.

Robert Howitt ("Sliding Doors"), uses the sledgehammer style of directing, driving home each plot point until your head hurts. The beginning of the film goes on and on, setting up the conflict between the two before getting to whatever meat is contained in this tiny tale.

By the time the best part of the film rolls around -- when the two are pretending to be married, but are actually falling in love at the same time -- the film is well into the third act. It's too little, too late.

Francis Fisher does a nice turn as Audrey's some-what vapid, but all-knowing mother, while Nora Dunn ("Saturday Night Live"), plays a no-nonsense judge who shrieks out every one of her lines. I cringed everytime she came on screen.

Overall, save yourself a trip to the cineplex -- not to mention nine dollars -- check out some Tracy-Hepburn films, and wait for "Laws of Attraction" to show up on video or DVD. That is, assuming you're still interested after you see "Adam's Rib."

"Laws Of Attraction" opens nationwide on Friday, April 30, and is rated PG-13.

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