It's a wonder that I still have any hope for romantic comedies anymore. After watching "Laws of Attraction," I'm getting the feeling there's not much left to be hopeful for when it comes to this particular genre. In my most honest opinion, I have not seen a superb romantic comedy since "When Harry Met Sally." Granted, there have been plenty over the years and some of them have been fairly warm, but most of them just end up as wasted fodder for the Hollywood garbage disposal. "Laws of Attraction" is emphatically one of those films that fit into the category of wasted time.
It's unfortunate because the movie does support a good duo of Pierce Brosnan and Julianne Moore. The chemistry between the two people works rather well, but it is the script that deludes the audience into thinking we might actually get something special from the two. You would figure a movie about two divorce lawyers, who just happen to be the best two divorce lawyers in New York, would be able to deliver the audience plenty of laughs along with a coy game of cat and mouse. Brosnan and Moore do what they can with as much conviction and passion as any decent actors could do. However, working with a script that falls terribly flat in both comedy and romance, it's difficult for any two actors to carry the entire film.
The film begins as Audrey Woods (Moore), one of New York's top divorce lawyers, is faced in court against another top lawyer named Daniel Rafferty (Brosnan). The two are very opposite in personality, as we see Audrey as the hard working, determined career woman who leads a lonely life. Audrey is also emotionally supported by her fifty-eight year old mother, Sara (Frances Fisher), who has an addiction to rock n' roll and Botox, acting like she's still a teenager. Daniel, on the other hand, is as calmly witty as he is intelligent and clever. The two lawyers go through a few comedic moments bashing heads in divorce court, and then after a night of trying to outdrink each other, they wind up in bed together. Of course, the next day Audrey is not entirely happy about waking up in Daniel's bed. There are a few more amusing moments, but from this point on, the film concentrates on setting a tone of restrained romance.
By the second half of the film, our two reluctant lovers are at battle again. On one end, we have Audrey defending an irresponsible, self-indulgent rock star named Thorne Jamison (Michael Sheen), and Daniel the prosecutor for Thorne's wife, Serena (Parker Posey), as she files for divorce. Serena at first wants blood and everything she can get from her cheating, lowlife husband. After some time she decides the only thing she wants is the castle in Ireland. The only problem with this is that guess who else wants it. As can be expected, this dilemma forces Daniel and Audrey to fly to Ireland, see the castle, and interview all the service people living and working there. Well, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out where the story will take us from this point.
The second half of the film is where I found more cinematic issues that many of us critics complain about time after time. Abundant clichés, predictable moments, lack of originality, not enough story development to make the romance believable, and overacted characters; namely Michael Sheen as Thorne and Parker Posey as Serena. It's a shame because the first half of the film had promise and the makings of what might have ended up as a good comedy. Not to mention, had the film had enough time to slow down and find its footing, we might have had a decent movie. But, when you cram a plethora of plot issues into a short ninety-minute film there is bound to be trouble.
As I have already pointed out, the main problem with "Laws of Attraction" is that the film never seems to find a foundation in what it wants to be. It begins with some very amusing moments but soon loses its touch for any original humor and begins to take us down the all-too-familiar path of romance anecdotes. As it is, in the one half you get the comedy, and in the second half the romance. To me, this is where the dilemma lies, as the film never blends into itself enough to give it a suitable balance. Overall, the film comes across like having a bowl of Rice Krispies without the snap, crackle and pop.
The video formats are presented in widescreen 2.35:1 and in fullscreen 1.33:1. You decide which format you want to see through a menu. I found the picture was sharp, vivid, and clean with only a small amount of gain and pain on the eyes. There were a few murky spots but only in dark scenes in the film. By and large, not a bad picture; it looked quite acceptable.
The audio is presented in Dolby 5.1 surround and stereo surround. It's a film with plenty of center speaker and midrange. Since it's a simple romantic comedy, there's not much to be expected in the way of extreme audio. I thought it sounded good enough through my audio system to be considered conventional, but I would have liked a little more rear-speaker action. Nevertheless, it has reasonable balance and works well enough for what it is.
Not much to tell here. This is no special-edition release, and as mediocre as the film is, I could hardly think of any reason for New Line ever to make an SE. Nonetheless, this version of the DVD comes with a handful of deleted scenes, including an alternate ending and two original theatrical trailers. Other than that, the DVD comes with the usual spoken English, with English and Spanish subtitles. Of course, you do have that nice option of choosing either widescreen or fullscreen, so I guess that should count for something, too.
Parting Non Attractions:
Had director Peter Howitt taken Aline Brosh McKinna's story and let someone else write the screenplay, he may have had something. Then again, McKinna's story may have already been a mess from the start. Regardless of what I think, I'm sure this film will provide some elusive comfort in the hearts of chick-flick lover's worldwide. That is, as long as they only find that comfort in a rental.