This movie is about the two best divorce lawyers in New York City (played by Pierce Brosnan and Julianne Moore) who do fierce battle in the courtroom, fall drunkenly into the bedroom, end up in Ireland, get married, and then finally fall in love.
None of that should be a spoiler, really. Who goes into a light-as-a-feather romantic comedy thinking that the reluctant lovers won't end up snuggled happily in each other's arms by the time the credits roll?
If you've read my movie writeups before, you know that my movie tastes run to the violent and the fantastic and preferably both. I'm a guns-and-rocketships kinda gal. But that doesn't mean I don't appreciate a good film in other genres ... and this is a very good film. It's better than it has to be, actually, though some people will surely go into it somehow expecting it to be Citizen Kane or something other than a romantic comedy and will leave all disgruntled. If watched with the proper mindset, this movie is bound to lift even the most sodden spirits.
This is probably the best romantic comedy since Bridget Jones's Diary, but it is a very different kind of movie. Bridget's comedy had teeth to it; Laws is very much in the vein of the old-fashioned Spencer Tracy/Katharine Hepburn or Cary Grant romantic comedies. In fact, some of the elements of this movie strongly mirror 1961's Lover Come Back, a comedy starring Rock Hudson and Doris Day as warring ad executives who fall in love (the plot details are different, so Laws isn't a remake).
And unlike Mark Wahlberg, Pierce Brosnan is a good replacement for Cary Grant. While Brosnan in his early career was capable of signing on to some awful films, he seems incapable of giving a bad performance.
And there's real chemistry between Brosnan and Moore. I have read some reviews complaining about Moore, but I think she's great in this role. She's supposed to be wildly neurotic throughout most of it. Moore has done so many heavy dramas that she seems relieved to finally have a comedy -- and her timing is very good. I hope she does more. She's also more beautiful in this film than in recent films such as Boogie Nights and Magnolia, where I think she was intentionally shot in a less-than flattering way to make her seem more like the broken burnout cases she was playing. In the scenes where her character finally gets to relax, Moore shines.
The supporting actors are also very good (especially Frances Fisher as Moore's character's mother) and the script is really good in places. Braunbeck and I laughed consistently throughout the film. The pace is quick, maybe a little too quick in places, but I never found it to lag.
I did have a few minor quibbles with the movie, but nothing that really detracted from the overall experience for me. For instance, they product-placed some Handpring Treo PDAs that the lawyers used in various scenes ... and the Treos were really obviously turned off. Argh. Oh well. Overall, it's a very safe and entertaining date movie.
Running Time: 90 minutes
Director: Peter Howitt
Writer: Aline Brosh McKenna and Robert Harling
Pierce Brosnan: Daniel Rafferty
Julianne Moore: Audrey Miller
Nora Dunn: Judge Abramovitz
Frances Fisher: Sara Miller
Parker Posey: Serena
Michael Sheen: Thorne Jamison
Mina Badie: Tracey Abramovitz
Mike Doyle: Michael Rawson