LAWS OF ATTRACTION
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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