Writer-director Dylan Kidd's follow-up to the acid-tipped ROGER DODGER (2002) is an altogether gentler affair, an intergenerational romance so precious that it's in constant danger of floating away on its own wifty contrivances. Vain, divorced and convinced that her mother along with everyone else always liked her brother best, 39-year-old Columbia University admissions coordinator Louise Harrington (Laura Linney), gatekeeper of the school's graduate fine-arts program, is in the throes of an early midlife crisis when she finds an application carelessly submitted by painter F. Scott Feinstadt (Topher Grace). The envelope brings her up short: Except for the first initial, the applicant's name is identical to that of Louise's high-school boyfriend, also a painter, who broke her heart and then died in a car crash en route to his first semester of college. Stunned and more than a little curious, Louise calls Feinstadt, a recent graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, to come in for an interview. Not only does F. Scott have the same name as Louise's first love, but he looks exactly like him, has the same voice and even the same bad habits, starting with lateness. Louise leaps headlong into a steamy affair, and complications neither especially insightful nor particularly funny ensue, expanding out in concentric circles to ensnare Louise's ex-husband (Gabriel Byrne), a philandering sex addict throughout their marriage; her brother, Sammy (Paul Rudd); their mother (Lois Smith); and Louise's trampy best friend, Missy (Marcia Gay Harden), who blows into town for the express purpose of making an awkward situation thornier. Novelist Helen Schulman, who cowrote the screenplay with Kidd, is a well-considered literary writer but p.s. is, frankly, a bit of vaguely pretentious chick lit; their combined efforts fail to transform it into anything else. For a good hour the film breezes along on the promise that there will be a moment when everything coalesces and its point becomes clear. But the moment never comes (and no, the matter of reincarnation is never resolved), leaving Linney and Grace to lurch through the quagmire of an artificial and pointless-seeming dilemma with as much dignity as they can muster. Grace fares better than Linney, and both escape with more dignity than Harden, whose blowsy, wanton Missy is a coarse, soap-opera caricature of a suburban hoyden.
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- Released: 2004
- Rating: R
- Review: Writer-director Dylan Kidd's follow-up to the acid-tipped ROGER DODGER (2002) is an altogether gentler affair, an intergenerational romance so precious that it's in constant danger of floating away on its own wifty contrivances. Vain, divorced and convince… (more)