'P.S. I Love You' not enough for letter

Category: P.S. I Love You Reviews | Posted by: stagewomanjen
Article Date: January 4, 2008 | Publication: Sioux City Journal | Author: Bruce R. Miller
Publication/Article Link:http://www.siouxcityjournal.com/articles/2008/01/04/entertainment/film_reviews/b8c71c547ec3fd3c862573c5004f6d29.txt

Two good cries and a sassy supporting turn from Lisa Kudrow aren't enough to merit a love letter to "P.S. I Love You."

Better in print, the story of a young woman moving on after the death of her husband tries too hard to be something it's not. Like Hilary Swank - who's miscast - the concept takes more than a little effort to embrace.

Gerard Butler (as the husband who dies before the opening credits roll) plays one of those uber-attractive hunks who says and does all the right things. He plays music, too, and isn't above doing a little striptease to please his wife. After his funeral, Swank learns that he has written her a series of letters, each designed to help her move forward. Naturally, they're all tearjerkers. Of course, they all come with some memento from the couple's shared past.

The concept is interesting - in a Keanu Reeves/Sandra Bullock way - but if the guy was on his deathbed he couldn't have had the energy to plot out a year's worth of close encounters of the Kleenex kind.

Two friends (Gina Gerson and Kudrow) help Swank get out, then accompany her on a trip to Ireland where she meets his parents, views his haunts and flashes back (several times) to their courtship.

Director Richard LaGravanese, in fact, loves the flashback, which gives Butler more than a cameo performance. He shows when Swank was just another gawky young woman and Butler was a rough-around-the edges drifter. The moments are fine, but repeatedly you wonder if they wouldn't have been better with a different woman in the lead. Hardly another Meg Ryan, Swank tries too hard to play coy and wounded. Considering we've seen her in a boxing ring, we know she's capable of more.

Kathy Bates has a few gruff moments as Swank's mother and Harry Connick Jr. turns up as a potential suitor. But it's Kudrow who surprises with a performance that's fresh and interesting.

She's a driven friend who wouldn't mind finding the right man, either. She gets good laughs when the three are in a boat in Ireland and a dandy speech when she tells Swank about the expectations of a friendship. The speech is better than whole chunks of the film - a contrived drama that doesn't come close to the weepers Swank watches on her flat screen.

When she finally finds purpose in life, "P.S. I Love You" introduces the biggest laugh of all - a shoe collection that she actually thinks is good.

The costumes are so bizarre, it's amazing she attracted Butler in the first place. When she dons a pair of shoes she has crafted, you'll be reminded of another film. But Margaret Hamilton was wearing them.

"P.S. I Love You" is a shameless chick flick that doesn't apologize for any of its contrivances. It's OK. But when you know something much better (namely "27 Dresses") is on the way, it's hard to write home about.

Rated PG-13, "P.S. I Love You" features adult talk and situations.

On a scale of four stars, "P.S." gets:

1 1/2 stars