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With: Pierce Brosnan, Julianne Moore, Parker Posey, Michael Sheen, Frances Fisher, Nora Dunn
Written by: Aline Brosh McKenna, Robert Harling
Directed by: Peter Howitt
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content and language
Running Time: 90
Date: 04/04/2004

Laws of Attraction (2004)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The possibilities were endless. Pierce Brosnan and Julianne Moore together in a romantic comedy promised great sophistication, a rare grown-up movie of the type they used to make with Katharine and Audrey Hepburn. Not to mention that Laws of Attraction was chosen to close the San Francisco International Film Festival. We're a sophisticated town, aren't we? How could the festival go wrong?

But this is 2004, and everything must be aimed at 13 year-olds, even if it's a film about grown-ups. And so Laws of Attraction begins with slapstick, one-dimensional characterizations, and three -- count 'em -- three montage sequences. (One courtroom montage, one getting-along montage and one breakup montage.)

Basically, yet again, we have the uptight character (Moore) clashing with the laid-back character (Brosnan), and the laid-back character must teach the uptight character how to loosen up and fall in love. The fact that they're both divorce lawyers -- the best in New York -- barely comes into it.

Audrey Woods (Moore) and Daniel Rafferty (Brosnan) face their biggest challenge during a celebrity divorce case. He's representing fashion designer Serena (Parker Posey) and she's representing rock star Thorne Jamison (Michael Sheen). Both parties wish to own a castle in Ireland, and so both lawyers must go there to interview the staff and check out the lay of the land. While there, they get roaring drunk and wind up married.

In addition Frances Fisher plays a variation on the romantic comedy "best friend" and plays Audrey's ageless mother. And Nora Dunn, who recently played a juror in Runaway Jury, plays a judge here. (In her next film, she can play an executioner.)

Moore and Brosnan add some small sampling of sophistication to a script that doesn't have any. This is a movie in which Audrey throws little temper tantrums, knocks things over and locks herself in the bathroom to eat Sno-Balls, while Daniel snoozes in court and wears rumpled suits. This is a movie that, when one character says, "Don't worry... I know Ireland like the back of my hand," we're supposed to laugh when he gets lost.

But when our two lovers are onscreen together, they appear to be enjoying each other's company on a level beyond the script. It's too bad that director Peter Howitt didn't recognize this and run away with it. But then again, we're talking about the director of AntiTrust and Johnny English.

The biggest question, I suppose, is this: are there any 13 year-olds who want to see a movie about two bickering divorce lawyers? Why didn't they just make the movie for grown-ups?

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