Laws Of Attraction

on April 30, 2004 by Annlee Ellingson
Oft-compared to "Adam's Rib" due to its similar married-lawyers-meeting-in-court storyline, "Laws of Attraction," the filmmakers admit in the press notes, is an effort to recreate the banter and rhythm of the Spencer Tracy/Katharine Hepburn romantic comedies of the '40s and '50s for contemporary audiences. The comparison is unfortunate. While "Laws" has captured the lively energy of a couple whose bickering spills into the courtroom, it has also incorporated elements of slapstick. Solely at the expense of the distaff half of the couple, these moments appeal to a common denominator much lower than the mature adult audience for whom the filmmakers claim to be aiming.

It's distaste at first sight for high-powered divorce attorneys Audrey Woods (Julianne Moore) and Daniel Rafferty (Pierce Brosnan). She practices law strictly by the book; he always manages to win by the seat of his pants. Soon they find themselves pitted against each other in the nasty public divorce of an outrageous rock star and his clothes-designer wife (Michael Sheen and Parker Posey), who both have their sights set on their castle in the Irish countryside. When Audrey and Daniel travel separately to the Emerald Isle to chase down depositions for their clients, they get caught up in the revelry at a local festival and wake up the next morning to find they've tied the knot. Now, to protect their careers, they must continue the ruse and act like a loving married couple.

Whatever intrigue is generated by the pairing of Brosnan and Moore swiftly dissipates due to a cliché-ridden script. From Audrey's binges on sugar-coated marshmallows in the ladies' room at the courthouse to Daniel's sudden flash of brilliance at trial, the audience can see the plot points coming a mile away. The film does defy expectations by casting the man as the romantic idealist who wants to make their faux marriage work; it's unfortunate, then, that his sentimentalism is off-putting. Moreover, the complications of cohabiting opposing counsel has been mined for greater drama, on say, TV's "The Practice."

Put it this way: "I watch the Weather Channel" is the film's crowning punchline. And, no, an explanation as to the joke's relevance doesn't make it any funnier. Starring Pierce Brosnan and Julianne Moore. Directed by Peter Howitt. Written by Aline Brosh McKenna and Robert Harling. Produced by David T. Friendly, Marc Turtletaub, Beau St. Clair, Julie Durk and David Bergstein. A New Line release. Romantic comedy. Rated PG-13 for sexual content and language. Running time: 89 min

Tags: Pierce Brosnan, Julianne Moore, Peter Howitt, Aline Brosh McKenna, Robert Harling, David T. Friendly, Marc Turtletaub, Beau St. Clair, Julie Durk, David Bergstein, A New Line release, Romantic comedy, sentimentalism, marshmallows, sugar-coated, couple, trial

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