Movie: Laws of Attraction (2004)

One of my favorite short stories is The Jane Fonda Room by Jonathan Carroll.  In that story, the newest resident of hell selects from a list of possible punishments “The Movie Room”.  Jane Fonda is his favorite actress and so he will be shown her entire filmography.  And then the entire series of movies again.  And then he’ll have to watch the whole thing again.  And again and again and again.  For all of eternity. 

I sometimes wonder which actress’s body of work I would choose in the same predicament.  I realize the idea is that watching anybody’s complete body of work for all time would eventually drive one mad. 

Even so, my money is on Julianne Moore as being one of the safer bets.  First, she’s gorgeous, so you might as well lose your mind looking at somebody physically beautiful.  Second, she’s a good actor and she’s smart, so her performances tend to be complex and nuanced.  Lastly, she has been in a wide range of genres.

Which is why I would potentially be willing to subject myself to endless re-viewings of 2004’s Laws of Attraction.  There is very little else to distinguish this rom-com from the seemingly endless near-clones of it.

Sometimes I think studios have a Mad Libs sheet they fill out to come up with movies like this: choose a profession, an event, two locations, and two adjectives.  In this case, the completed form would read: “Two DIVORCE LAWYERS in NEW YORK CITY find themselves on opposing sides in a DIVORCE TRIAL that dodgy plot contrivances force them to go to IRELAND, where this PERFECTIONIST and SLOB inevitably fall in love”.

When this couple is Moore and Pierce Brosnan, you’re at least going to get better performances than what this type of programmer normally requires.  Michael Sheen and Parker Posey play their respective clients and, while I was encouraged by seeing their names in the opening credits, they are definitely not used to their full potential here.  Sheen, who can overplay when not reigned-in, is allowed to ravage the scenery as the stereotype of a womanizing rock star.  Posey is reduced to screaming and crying a lot, but without the clever dialogue I usually expect to come from her mouth.

The obligatory quirk given to Moore’s character is how much she loves junk food, and there’s a solid laugh early on when she fights a case of nerves by hiding in a bathroom stall and stuffing an entire Hostess Snoball in her mouth.  Nobody is going to mistake the script for being the work of Paddy Chayefsky, but it is full of nice little touches like this.

All that said, I don’t want to give the impression Laws of Attraction is a bad movie.  It is a solidly enjoyable, if predictable, 90 minutes of watching attractive people in shallow, yet believable, roles. 

Dir: Peter Howitt

Starring Pierce Brosnan, Julianne Moore, Parkey Posey, Michael Sheen

Watched on Kanopy