The Baltimore Sun

Taking a page from Pennies From Heaven, the family and neighbors of Romance & Cigarettes' Nick Murder (James Gandolfini) act out by singing along to kitschy hits, such as Engelbert Humperdinck's "A Man Without Love." It's karaoke with a vengeance as Murder, a Queens, N.Y., construction worker, takes refuge from a dead marriage in the arms of an underwear shop clerk (Kate Winslet, ferreting humanity out of a crass other-woman stereotype). His wife (Susan Sarandon) and his daughters (Mary-Louise Parker, Mandy Moore, Aida Turturro) respond with knee-jerk rage; their swaggering uncle (Christopher Walken) adds propane to the fire.

A hit parade of just-folks laments are given the mock-Broadway treatment, with intentionally uncoordinated choruses of pirouetting cops and conga-lining firemen. It's like a string of antacid commercials. The one actor with any kind of vocal panache (Moore) is cut off mid-song, while the only cast member who can sell a number (Elaine Stritch) is left without one. None of the characters are into opera, a small favor for which we can all thank heaven.

The fortissimo stridency is further amplified by high-decibel confrontations, actors talking over one another and the occasional loud eruption of passing gas.

Rated R. Time 105 minutes. Sun score: F.


'P.S. I Love You'

You could go see P.S. I Love You, or you could hit yourself on the head with a meat mallet.

Adapted by Richard LaGravenese (who also directs) and Steven Rogers from Irish writer Cecelia Ahern's best-selling novel, the movie stars Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler (300) as a couple whose marriage appears to take a turn for the better after the husband dies suddenly of a brain tumor.

The main gimmick of Ahern's novel - and LaGravenese's film - is that Gerry leaves a packet of 10 letters for Swank to open at the beginning of each month after his death, which contain words of wisdom, advice, etc.

LaGravenese and Rogers have decided to spice up the delivery of the missives by having Gerry set up an elaborate delivery system that involves the dry cleaners and other local merchants, but this doesn't make Gerry's letters any more interesting. For a guy writing from beyond the grave, he's unforgivably boring.

Holly discovers that Gerry has arranged for her to go on vacation to Ireland with her friends, and their trip provides the occasion for her meeting the appealing William (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).

A movie like this requires believable characters in plausible situations, neither of which P.S. I Love You provides. Some focus and economy would have gone a long way, too.

Rated PG-13. Time 126 minutes. Sun score: F.

Los Angeles Times


Watch a preview and see more photos from P.S. I Love You at baltimoresun.com/ps

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