Stars: ** 1/2
Rating: PG-13 for light language and sexuality
Run Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Even the most superhero-charged summer season begs for a romantic comedy. This summer’s high-profile offering is a lightweight piece of fluff based loosely on Dostoyevsky’s “The Gambler”.
Opening gambit sets the stage for an uneven experience. Luke Wilson (he of the magnificent lantern jaw) is Alex Sheldon, a writer cum incessant gambler who finds himself in a heap o’ trouble over an unpaid mafia bet. While a pair of clichéd Cuban thugs dangles him over a five-story balcony, Alex begs for mercy and promises to complete his next novel in thirty days in order to refund his $100,000 debt.
Cubans have trashed Alex’s laptop, he requires the immediate services of a
stenographer. Enter Emma Dinsmore (Kate Hudson), a prim professional
overflowing with attitude and opinions.
As Alex furiously dictates his novel to the forthright Emma, the literary
action simultaneously unfolds onscreen, with Alex and Emma holding court in
doubles as Adam Shipley, an idealistic tutor madly in lust with his glamorous
employer (Sophie Marceau).
The action swings back and forth between real time and fantasy, allowing the characters to fall in love on both sides of the page. Rob Reiner exhibits none of the sentimental sleight-of-hand he demonstrated while helming “When Harry Met Sally” or “The American President”, punctuating his action with clunky dissolves and questionable taste. A mildly clever climactic twist is bogged down by fifteen superfluous minutes of desperate bathetic slush that kills the flow.
Despite a lukewarm couples chemistry, the engaging Wilson and Hudson light up the screen with their striking visages and winning smiles. Harmless, humdrum summer fun.