Holmes Broods in Soggy ‘Romantics’: Strange Oldsters: Movies

Gatherings of old college friends can quickly turn ugly. So can movies about those reunions.

A case in point is “The Romantics,” which wallows in sappy pretentiousness and tedious introspection. The story of seven former classmates who reunite for a seaside wedding, “The Big Chill” wannabe is stuffed with cliches, melodrama and paper-thin characters who seem to have walked out of a bad novel.

In fact, Galt Niederhoffer’s movie is based on her own novel. I haven’t read the book, but it can hardly be worse than this crudely made adaptation.

It centers on the lingering feud between brooding romantic Laura (Katie Holmes) and dull, practical Lila (Anna Paquin), who are both in love with handsome jock Tom (Josh Duhamel).

Lila and Tom are about to get married, much to the dismay of Laura, his former girlfriend and soulmate. But Tom is having second-thoughts and wanders off by himself the night before the wedding. While his friends search for him, they relive old times and do wacky things like get drunk and run around naked. Isn’t it a little late to be pledging a fraternity or sorority when you’re pushing 30?

Laura eventually finds Tom sitting under a tree, where she recites Keats and slow dances with her ex-beau. This doesn’t bode well for the prospective bride, whose mother (Candice Bergen) is ominously predicting rain for the ceremony.

It does pour, but the movie gets soggy long before that.

“The Romantics,” from Paramount Famous Productions, is playing in New York and Los Angeles. Rating: *1/2

‘Lovely, Still’

Part fairy tale and part hallucination, “Lovely, Still” is never what it seems to be.

Starring Martin Landau as a lonely old man who works at a grocery store and unexpectedly falls for a mysterious neighbor (Ellen Burstyn), it’s apparently a sweet, senior-citizen love story.

There are foreboding signs, however. Robert (Landau) keeps having sweaty nightmares, Mary (Burstyn) accidentally washes her pills down the sink and we hear ambiguous lines like, “The future can be wonderful -- or something else.”

It’s impossible to say much more without giving away the surprise ending of director Nik Fackler’s imaginative, sometimes baffling first film. The closing twist makes you rethink the entire movie, looking for clues you may have missed.

“Lovely, Still,” from Monterey Media, is playing in New York and opens Sept. 17 in Los Angeles. Rating: **1/2


What the Stars Mean:

****          Excellent
***           Good
**            Average
*             Poor
(No stars)    Worthless

(Rick Warner is the movie critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)

To contact the writer on the story: Rick Warner in New York at rwarner1@bloomberg.net.

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