'Laws of Attraction': Julianne Moore is far from heaven in this comedy
Seattle Times movie critic
Directed by Peter Howitt (who showed a lighter touch in his debut film, "Sliding Doors"), "Laws of Attraction" is clearly made in imitation of the romantic comedies of a bygone era. Its dueling-lawyers-in-love plot is reminiscent of the Hepburn/Tracy classic "Adam's Rib," with a plot twist that was undeniably fresher back in 1935, when it was employed in the Astaire/Rogers vehicle "Top Hat." Daniel (Brosnan) is scruffy, undisciplined and adorable; Audrey (Moore) is uptight, intense and adorable. They meet cute in the courtroom, she decides he's an oaf, and you can pretty much write the script yourself from there.
Brosnan, combining his James Bond lady-killing charm with rumpled suits and mussable hair, is terrific at this sort of thing. At one point, Daniel plucks a food scrap off Audrey's face — she's got a secret junk-food habit — and eats it, and damned if Brosnan doesn't make it sing, turning a cringe-worthy moment into a comic bit. Unfortunately, his breeziness calls attention to Moore's effortful performance — you can see her thinking through everything, trying desperately to make sense out of a character we'd never believe in real life. (Meryl Streep approaches comedy this way, too, but it works better — you can at least see that she's amused by the process.)
"Laws of Attraction" sags where it should float, going through the motions of putting Daniel and Audrey together, apart, and together again. It's not awful, but it feels tired, like it's just another in a long line of cookie-cutter movies about pretty people. Comedy is hard work, but the work shouldn't show — and it shouldn't be an effort to sit through.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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