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"Laws of Attraction"

Directed by Peter Howitt ("Antitrust").
Written by Aline Brosh McKenna and Robert Harling. 
Starring Pierce Brosnan and Julianne Moore.
Release Year:  2004 
Review Date:  4/30/04


Thanks to my friend Tricia, I have had the good fortune of being able to see a few freebies of late.  Although I had not seen a trailer for the new romantic comedy "Laws of Attraction", I did see many posters for the film in various moviehouses and thought that a Pierce Brosnan flick could do me no harm.

What "Laws of Attraction" told me, as well as my friend Jeannine, was that "Love Actually" really is an incredible film, because for me to love a romantic comedy is just that rare.  This time around, we get New York's top divorce lawyer, Audrey Miller (Julianne Moore), a beautiful, successful counsel that seems to have trouble with the whole dating thing...until she meets her professional match in Daniel Rafferty (Brosnan), a clumsy, disheveled lawyer recently relocated from the West Coast that is every bit the divorce lawyer that Miller is.  When the two meet outside the courtroom, romantic hijinks ensue...and then, when the twosome work on opposite sides of a rock couple (Michael Sheen and Parker Posey), things REALLY get weird.

Without having seen any previews, I was unaware of a twist mid-film that I thought worked quite well.  And, up to that point, "Laws of Attraction" is a perfectly harmless, by-the-book comedy.  The chemistry between Brosnan and Moore is well done, the flirting/initial dating portion of the film is funny, charming and even, well, cute at times; the film is beautifully photographed throughout, from a smooth set of opening credits through montages of courtroom sequences that are brushed over in the interest of time.

But, after this mid-film plot twist, I was intrigued to see where the film's writers would take us...and, as it turned out, they took us absolutely nowhere.  I had a hard time buying the Moore character incessantly in the final half-hour; I can't say I blame Moore's performance on this, even though at times it does feel like she is acting, and that is not a good thing.  Standard issue boy-loses-girl plotting is accompanied by hilarious stock footage of characters suffering during thunderstorms, or while blankly watching TV, or while taking long walks...don't writers ever think this shit is hackneyed to death by now?  Even scenes like when a small doll's leg is broken off were meant to be dramatic, but all I could do--much to the chagrin of those sitting near me--was cackle my ass off.

And, in what is quickly becoming The Year of the Shitty Ending, "Laws of Attraction" dies, completely drops dead in its last five minutes.  The good run in the first 45 minutes is enough to justify the rating, since I had a great time during the courtship phase...too bad the flick just couldn't hold up.

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09