Laws of Attraction

Laws of Attraction is one of those romantic comedies that throws together the wrong people and then doesn’t quite know what to do with them when the chemistry doesn’t click. The result is a movie that feels forced and flaccid, despite the overwhelming charm of Pierce Brosnan. Is it even still possible to make good movies in the romantic comedy genre? The odds seem to be increasingly against it.

This attempt pits two single lawyers against one another both in the courtroom and on the romantic battlefield. Audrey (Julianne Moore) and Daniel (Pierce Brosnan) engage in a combative relationship, covering up mutual attraction with verbal viciousness and dirty legal tricks. This sets up a disjointed scenario where the movie’s problems become more than just flailing chemistry as they suddenly both fly to Ireland. Apparently it has something to do with their clients, but the movie quickly shifts from “Ally McBeal” to Ashton Kutcher’s Just Married with little explanation. Trapped in a quaint Irish village (complete with gigantic castle), Daniel and Audrey get drunk and fall for each other. The rest of the movie is played out watching Audrey in denial, with the tone and location jumping back and forth, unsure of just what kind of movie Laws of Attraction wants to be.

It’s nice to see Julianne Moore out doing something a little less serious. Most of her roles, especially in recent memory have been heavy to say the least. But going back to playing something softer and sillier seems to make her uncomfortable. She seems like she’d rather be out winning Oscars than keeping on her smartly cut suit on in Laws of Attraction. Who can blame her, when her character Audrey is little more than a collection of lawyer spinster clichés, missing only a predilection towards amassing an unseemly amount of cats to make her stereotype complete. Like any Ally McBeal clone, she’s a mass of used up quirks intended to be cute and funny, but coming off pretty listless in part because Moore doesn’t ever seem to know what to do with them and in part because we’ve seen them all hundreds of times before.

Brosnan on the other hand continues to have an amazing on screen presence and great chemistry. Unfortunately he has no chemistry with Moore, but a lot of it with himself. It’s as if there’s a bubble of on-screen charm following him wherever he goes, untouched by the blandness of the movie and costars surrounding him. Pierce Brosnan is over in the corner channeling up visions of Carey Grant while Julianne Moore lies on the couch scarfing down snake cakes and wishing she could be digitally replaced by Doris Day.

This is a different role for Brosnan, something leaning oddly towards the likes of an amazingly good looking Columbo and a little bit further away from the ultra-dashing James Bond. He’s growing into his age, getting grey, going flabby and potentially fat. Despite being stuck in a fairly tedious movie masquerading as a romantic comedy, Pierce seems ready to travel down the dignified post-Bond path comfortably laid out by the hallowed Sean Connery.

Regardless, the movie is lost and confused, miscast and ill-conceived. Brosnan is better opposite a doe eyed beauty capable of trading verbal barbs but then well and ready to fall breathlessly into his arms. Julianne Moore’s bumbling, unsure attorney type seems patently unsuited to his affections and their romance (especially their kisses) never has any spark. Neither does the film, which simply picks out overused bits from other movies to insert its two characters into. From the old “forget to put on the car’s brake while in a foreign country” bit to the “hey we got married while we were drunk” conceit, Laws of Attraction fails to offer anything funny or original. Brosnan may be charming, but Laws of Attraction is a total drag.