Starring: Ginnifer Goodwin, Justin Long, Drew Barrymore, Kevin Connolly, Scarlett Johansson, Bradley Cooper, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston and Jennifer Connelly.
Synopsis: People in Baltimore, who are all connected in one way or another, discover something new about love through the hardships they face with relationships. This film is based on the bestselling book by the same name by comedian Greg Behrendt and Sex and The City writer Liz Tuccillo.
What doesn't work?
My criticism and grade involve only two aspects of this film. For starters, it sometimes lacks a spine. I expect to go to a movie about a self-help book and learn something new -- perhaps, a new way to deal with the cruelty of a cheating partner? -- but I didn't. And if the book is withholding its secrets in preparation for a late buyout, they would have been much more successful if they had given us a few tasty concepts in the film. That might have made me drive, half-crazed, to Barnes and Noble to buy a copy. I won't be doing that. Second, I expected a movie about a book written by a comedian to be funnier than it was.
Movies land on my unwatchable list when they are faker or more poorly constructed than Pamela Anderson's implants. In fact, if I were judge, jury, and executioner of all the crimes that should force a production studio to close its doors permanently, phoniness and flimsy structure would warrant capital punishment for film executives. One movie that ranked "high" on my list specifically for those two reasons was last year's "27 Dresses" (Katherine Heigl can -- and should -- do better). When monstrosities like that flick are allowed to leave the editing room's shelf, a little piece of my movieholic soul dies.
This story, however, suffers from neither of those heinous transgressions. The plot is sweet, genuine, and flows naturally through each person's life. Its characters are not completely helpless, brain-dead morons or they correct that by the end. Most just fall victim to misguided advice. There are even several very cheesy, well-written lines that you'll remember when you get home simply because the entire audience sighs, gasps, or bursts into tears -- happily, of course.
Then comes advice from the book to save the day. It's not obnoxious (even though chapter titles engulf the screen at times) and the structure of the film plays up the fact that HJNTY is a self-help book. The cameo from writer Greg Behrendt, as the priest, is also short enough to be nearly invisible.
Contact staff writer Jordan Trippeer at email@example.com
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