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Stars: Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson, Jack Nicholson, Kathryn Hahn, Mark Linn-Baker, Shelley Conn, Lenny Venito, Bill McKinney

Director: James L Brooks

I've been a big fan of director Brooks' films down the years, all the way from Terms of Endearment to Spanglish, so it pains me to say that his latest New York romance is one long yawn from beginning to end. OK, it does have one of the world's dullest leading men in Rudd, but, in all honesty, Witherspoon, Wilson, Nicholson and company fare little better with Brooks' putrid dialogue. It's so stultifying that comedienne Hahn comes across as annoying for the first time in screen.

Witherspoon plays an ace softball player who finds herself cut from the team at the age of 31. At the same time, hapless businessman Rudd is being accused of corporate fraud, the deed in question actually having been perpetrated by his boss and father (Nicholson).

Well, Witherspoon moves in with flaky baseball star Wilson, but he treats her more like a possession than a partner and it's clear from the start that she'll eventually leave him and settle for a lifetime of boredom with Rudd - as long as he stays out of jail.

No one in this film seems entirely at their ease. Small wonder with a script like this. 'I don't know,' wails Witherspoon, 'if I have what it takes for everybody's plan.' What does that mean? Only vaguely more comprehensible is Rudd's description of his father as 'an ethical mutant'. The critic next to me was sound asleep for much of the film. It seemed cruel to wake her.

David Quinlan

USA 2010. UK Distributor: Sony (Columbia). Colour by deluxe.
120 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 23 Jan 2011