Laws of Attraction (2004)

reviewed by
David N. Butterworth

A film review by David N. Butterworth
Copyright 2004 David N. Butterworth
** (out of ****)

By pairing Pierce Brosnan with Julianne Moore, "Laws of Attraction" attempts

to recreate the romantic, comedic sparring of those classic Tracy Hepburn movies

of the '40s and '50s--"Woman of the Year," "Pat and Mike," "Desk Set," and that

one about the two lawyers, "Adam's Rib." That it fails so spectacularly has

as much to do with a total lack of chemistry between its two otherwise likable

leads as it does its singular lack of comedy.

Screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna has taken an original story (her own)

and, with the help of co-screenwriter Robert Harling, infused it with stupidity,

predictability, and blandness. Handing it over to director Peter Howitt was,

perhaps, not the brightest of ideas either. Howitt's previous film was the

tired James Bond spoof "Johnny English" with Rowan Atkinson (two words of advice,

Peter: Austin Powers) and for much of the time "Laws of Attraction" feels equally

tired, an unfunny comedy populated by stock characters in stock situations and

with very little passion between the sheets.

What is interesting, however, is watching Brosnan (whose greatest recognition

to date is a 1985 Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in

a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV for

"Nancy Astor") act the pants off four-time Oscar nominee Moore. Metaphorically


As divorce attorney Daniel Rafferty, Brosnan is cute, charming, playful,

disheveled, awkward, beguiling, and extraordinarily sexy. Moore, on the other

hand, is just awkward. She doesn't do pratfalls well. She doesn't gobble down

junk food well (her character, divorce attorney Audrey Woods, is forever chowing

on Snowballs, Fritos, or Fiddle Faddle, all registered trademarked and strategically

placed, of course). And she doesn't do rapid-fire witty banter well (or could

if there was any). She's saddled with the same inane, formulaic material as

her co-star yet somehow Brosnan rises above. Moore simply plummets.

Daniel and Audrey are two New York City lawyers whose aggressive antics

in the courtroom quickly turn to aggressive antics in the bedroom after a couple

of nights of heavy drinking (the second time in Ireland, probably because Brosnan,

as executive producer, figured he could better butter up Moore's character with

a little of that County Meath brogue of his). Daniel and Audrey Aer Lingus

out to the Emerald Isle to depose their latest clients, a glamorous rock star

(Michael Sheen) and his fashion designer wife (Parker Posey) currently feuding

over a castle. I don't think I've seen Posey as bad as she is here. Sheen

didn't do much for me either--all eye shadow and postulating, but that's what

you get for playing a rock star I guess.

Hangover No. 2 ushers in the fact that Dan 'n' Aud's ring fingers now sport

pretty little wedding bands (it's in the previews). Oops! And some joke about

the relative position of their legal briefs.

Personally I was never convinced our protagonists really hated each other

from the outset (and certainly Daniel appears less irritated with Audrey than

she with him). They're beautiful people with a lot in common: never having

lost a case, for example. But the paint-by-numbers "Laws of Attraction" tries

to convince us otherwise, so that we'll be shocked, possibly even charmed, when

the two fall head over heels in love.
     Or, in Audrey's case, simply head over heels.
David N. Butterworth
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