on September 17, 2004 by Bridget Byrne
"Wimbledon" double-faults. It's almost forgivable that, despite the aid of computer-generated special effects, Kirsten Dunst and Paul Bettany can't convince us that they have the high-style moves of a Serena Williams or a Roger Federer. But it's not forgivable that outside the lines of the on-court smashes and rallies these talented actors have been handed such a wimpy script. Despite its hopes, and the match-up of an American gal with a British bloke, this movie is not on a par with other Working Title productions like "Notting Hill" or "Four Weddings and Funeral," which explore the vagaries of love in the hustle and bustle of modern life. It lacks the wit, the charm, the insight into a clash of cultures, the sheer fun, the tinges of sorrow that make sweetness more potent. It has no sharp edge, few laughs, and never successfully probes beneath the surface of the milieu it attempts to explore.

The romance that takes place between an up-and-coming American and a fading-fast journeyman Brit during the world's most prestigious and glamorous tennis championship lacks even the tension of a mixed doubles match on a damp day on an outside court. Handed cliché roles and cliché situations Dunst and Bettany are understandably lackluster. Think of a scene you've seen before and it's here--cute meeting, shower scene (in fact a combination of both), love nest invaded by paparazzi, victory-inducing appearance of loved one in the stands, etc. etc. Just because the lead couple is usually dressed in skimpy white outfits doesn't freshen up this standard stuff. Trite characters also surround the central ones--odd parents, bossy dad, understanding best friend, crass agent, snobby club members, etc. etc. There's far too much tennis action, which eats away time that could have been more valuably spent allowing Dunst and Bettany's characters to be more multi-dimensional, something both stars are fully equipped to handle much, much better than a service ace and a backhand drop shot. Starring Kirsten Dunst and Paul Bettany. Directed by Richard Loncraine. Written by Adam Brooks, Jennifer Flackett and Mark Levin. Produced by Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Liza Chasin and Mary Richards. A Universal release. Romantic comedy. Rated PG-13 for language, sexuality and partial nudity. Running time: 100 min

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