Laws of Attraction

written by Aline Brosh McKenna and Robert Harling

directed by Peter Howitt

starring Julianne Moore and Pierce Brosnan

review by Stephen Notley

Romantic comedies should be funny, ideally they should be hilarious. Failing that they must have at least some kind of believable chemistry between the romantic leads. With Laws of Attraction, the new romantic comedy gluing Julianne Moore to Pierce Brosnan, we have the latter but not the former, fun but not funny, not a lot of laughs but plenty of warm smiles and pulses of enjoyment watching the two of them bounce off each other.

Laws of Attraction looks for love amid divorce law, a theme we saw most recently and better in last year's Intolerable Cruelty. Laws lacks Cruelty's teeth and taste for meat, preferring to lean on likable rumpledness and silliness instead. Julianne Moore is, as always, great. She has such an adult, responsible look about her, beautiful but not girlish, yet she punches away from expectations with roles like the pornstar/Momfigure in Boogie Nights or the screaming-for-my-pills wife in Magnolia. In Laws of Attraction she's Audrey Miller, a sharp, solid, by-the-book legal hotshot -- or at least that's what we're told, and certainly Pierce is always right in there gentlemanly talking her up. As far as we can tell she's a nervous goofy flake, fending off pre-trial panic attacks by gobbling donuts in the can and forgetting to wipe her mouth, tripping over things and losing her panties and generally taking the whole movie to figure out that she's in love with Pierce Brosnan.

For his part Pierce rumples his suave nicely, ambling through the movie with a roguish just-woke-up look and easy confidence. Maybe a little too easy; it's fairly obvious early on that he's always three steps ahead of her on everything, which tends to cut down on the give-and-take of good romance. "There's no psychoanalytical shortcut into my pants!" she fiestily insists while gulping down the drinks that Pierce has easily identified as the correct shortcut into her pants; later on she can't get a car and ends up dragging her luggage down the Irish road inviting the inevitability of Pierce zooming up behind her to offer a ride. In this context the cutesy plot twist -- that after a night of Irish revelry they accidentally end up married-- fits right in as Pierce who knows he loves her patiently waits out her confused skittish qualms. Now we're married; you wanna pretend you don't like it? Go right ahead; I'll be right over here being your awesome husband. Eventually you'll figure it out.

It's pretty loose, Laws of Attraction, with some rather strained plot contrivances such as  super-able divorce lawyers never bothering to check up on the most basic elements of their supposed drunken marriage. Certainly the film never shies away from overusing montages to shortcut actual plot points, skipping several.  Laws of Attraction doesn't work *too* hard, and as I say, it's not exactly crammed with jokes. In romantic comedies you usually look to the secondary characters to provide the laughs but Laws of Attraction doesn't have as much going on there as it should. We do get 52-year-old Frances Fisher (Kate Winslet's mom in Titanic) looking super hot as Julianne's mom but frankly we don’t get enough of her, and Parker Posey and some guy named Michael (*not* Martin) Sheen mostly fade into the background as a spoiled fashion-designer/rockstar couple whose divorce provides the arena for Pierce and Julianne's hijinx.

Pierce is confident, Julianne is flustered, and eventually they learn to love each other, fairly easily. Not bad, though if you're interested in divorce lawyers tearing through love and marriage with real gusto and wit you're better off grabbing Intolerable Cruelty on DVD, and if you're just looking for a date movie with nice romantic "aw" moments you're way better off with Hellboy. Sorry Laws of Attraction, that's just how it is.

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