A pleasant-enough romantic comedy that tries for a screwball, old-fashioned feel, "Laws of Attraction" remains standard, unsurprising fare, but the movie has some laughs and a pair of fine performances - one better than the other - from the leads. At the very least, the picture is here-and-gone in 90 minutes, knowing enough to not wear out its welcome.
The film stars Julianne Moore as prime NYC divorce lawyer Audrey Woods, who's never been beaten in court. Coming in from the other coast is Daniel Rafferty (Pierce Brosnan), a divoce lawyer who holds a similar record. The two don't get along at first, as the uptight, driven Woods cringes at the somewhat sloppy, yet quite successful Rafferty. What I really liked about the film is that the movie doesn't have them falling in love, like most of these movies would.
It's no surprise that Audrey and Daniel's sparring in court leads to romance, albeit first of the drunken kind, as neither has much memory of their night together. Afterwards, the undercurrent of flirtation between the two begins to come to the surface. One similarly alcoholic night later, the two wake up with wedding bands. Only this time, they're in Ireland, investigating a castle that happens to be the core of a case between a rock star (Michael Sheen) and a fashion designer (Parker Posey).
"Laws" has several things going for it, including several mildly funny moments (including a lawyer's convention where Daniel uses a tape of Audrey sneaking around that he filmed against her). While the film doesn't have any big laughs, it often strings together a fair amount of minor zingers. The film's best performance is from Brosnan, who effortlessly delivers the comedy and manages to make a few lines work that otherwise wouldn't.
On the other side of the equation is Julianne Moore, who, while more than a capable actress usually, proves herself incapable of comedy. Her performance is a square peg through a round hole - forced, and almost shrill at times. Moore is a marvelous actress, and maybe she's simply miscast here. The film's other major issue is bringing the Brosnan and Moore characters together far too early in the film, making it considerably moore, er, more obvious that they'll eventually end up together. As a result, all of the stuff in the middle starts to feel somewhat like filler. The whole Ireland stretch feels like something out of another movie.
VIDEO: "Laws of Attraction" is presented by New Line in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 pan & scan, with both editions of the film housed on one side of a dual-layered disc. Although a few little concerns that present themselves lead me to believe that the picture quality did suffer a bit from stuffing both editions on the disc, the image quality is still excellent throughout much of the movie. Sharpness and detail remain very good throughout the film, although some low-light/wide shots occasionally appear a bit soft.
The presentation seemed to run into trouble more early on, with some noticable shimmer, slight edge enhancement and a trace instance or two of pixelation. A couple of tiny flaws show up later, but I noted more concerns in the early going. The print appeared to be in excellent shape throughout, with no specks, marks or other debris.
Colors remained natural and accurate throughout, with no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: "Laws of Attraction" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The film's comedy-style soundtrack offered essentially nothing in the way of surround use, although it really didn't need to. Dialogue-driven throughout, music and conversations both seemed well-recorded and clear.
EXTRAS: Deleted scenes (including an alternate ending) and a trailer.
Final Thoughts: "Laws of Attraction" does suffer from a few strikes and never really seems to aspire beyond the rather ordinary, but it still provided a decent amount of entertainment and scattered clever moments. While it didn't make much of an impact at the box office, it'll probably find more of an audience on DVD. New Line's DVD offers fine audio/video quality, but little in the way of supplements.
The Film ** 1/2