Laws of Attraction
Directed by Peter Howitt
Written by Aline Brosh McKenna, Robert Harling
Starring Pierce Brosnan, Julianne Moore


Laws of Attraction

In the movie business the Law of Producer Credits states that there is an inverse correlation between the number of producers (production companies, executive producers, producer producers, 'produced by' producers and associate producers) and the quality of the movie their names are attached to. The greater the number, the worse the film. In the case of "Laws of Attraction" there are, by my count, five production companies, nine executive producers plus one co-executive producer, four producer producers, one associate producer and one line producer who, in the way of the movie business, did all the work. Although absolute zero quality is not permitted by the formula, "Laws of Attraction" yields a number near the infinitely small.

The story, if that's not too strong a word, concerns duelling divorce attorneys Audrey Woods and Daniel Rafferty (Julianne Moore and Pierce Brosnan), who find themselves representing angry spouses in court but can't seem to stay out of bed whenever the mood strikes the writers. And yet this film skirts so delicately around the question of actual sex (it carries a PG-13 rating, more out of wishful thinking than need) that it might as well have been produced by Disney. Rarely have two people spent so much time in each others' beds without, you know, doing something about it.

Moore, one of the best film actresses working today, can almost by will and manner alone carry a movie on her shoulders. And with her peaches-and-cream complexion, huge blue eyes (marred here by unnecessary eyelash extensions in the closeups) and honeyed voice she is irresistible. And Brosnan, who showed nice comic chops in "The Thomas Crown Affair," is sexy and knows how to deliver a line enhanced by his soft Irish tang. The problem is that the plot machinery necessary to keep them apart for an hour and a half is so creaky, so clichéd, so obvious that we just roll our eyes as each device shows up to postpone the inevitable.

Is the film a disaster? No, because there are a few successful comic moments, including one where Brosnan's character uses security-camera footage of Moore stumbling through his office to great advantage for his client in court; and Nora Dunn as the judge in their big case, the divorce of a rock star (Michael Sheen) and his designer wife (Parker Posey) gets to show us a witty character whenever the movie threatens to fall apart. But comic romance in the courtroom has been done much better elsewhere, most recently in the flawed but witty "Intolerable Cruelty" (two executive producers, two producers including the writer, two co-producers and one associate producer). Let me point out that the original of the genre, the Spencer Tracy-Katharine Hepburn courtroom comedy "Adam's Rib," had one producer.