Laws of Attraction

In the case of The People v. “Laws of Attraction,” we find the defendant guilty of being a crappy movie and sentence it to death at the box office.

This is a sad case of When Bad Movies Happen to Good Actors. Pierce Brosnan cuts a rakish figure as a theatric, disheveled divorce lawyer named Daniel Rafferty, and I bow to no one in my love for Julianne Moore, who plays the skittish, married-to-her-job divorce lawyer Audrey Woods. They are charming separately, and they have a certain spark together, but the material they have to work with is third-rate.

They first meet on opposite sides of the aisle in a rather nasty divorce case, and soon find themselves frequent opponents, as they are the top two divorce attorneys in New York City. He’s a romantic; she thinks marriage is dead. He stands on tables during trials; she uses the law, not stunts, to win. He says “potato”; she says “po-tah-to.” You get the idea.

Well, then for some reason they accidentally sleep together, even though they hate each other, and then they have to go to Ireland to figure out which party in a pending divorce actually bought a certain castle there, and then they accidentally get married, and I’m NOT making that part up. The film doesn’t have a “plot” so much as it has a series of weak, pointless scenes that aren’t funny, don’t develop the characters and don’t further the story. The situations are seldom amusing and almost never believable.

It is directed by Peter Howitt, who also gave us mediocre products such as “Johnny English,” “AntiTrust” and “Sliding Doors.” It was written by Robert Harling, who has done good work (“Soapdish,” “Steel Magnolias”), and Aline Brosh McKenna, who has not (“Three to Tango”).

So how do our two beloved actors fare? Brosnan is just playing a slightly goofier version of the suave James Bond, and while Moore is radiant as ever, the silly comedy she’s required to do simply doesn’t suit her. They appear to be enjoying themselves, but they’re the only ones.

D (1 hr., 26 min.; PG-13, a little profanity, a little vulgarity, mild sexuality.)