In this occasionally pleasing – but too often lame – romantic comedy, Hilary Swank and Gerard (300) Butler are young married lovers in New York, embroiled in a long, rambling, pre-opening credits prelude. “I just don’t want to make any mistakes,” says she. “Well, you’re in the wrong species, then,” says he. The sub-species of movie this belongs to is that of the posthumous lover yarn, in which one lover has died but refuses to go gently into the good night. It makes plenty of mistakes along the way, including jokes that fail to deliver and family-size sentimental hokum.
What P.S. has going for it is Swank, who makes up for Butler’s questionable casting and the amiable mediocrity of Harry Connick, Jr. (in acting mode, that is). Swank, as the widow whose hunky Irish husband keeps returning in flashbacks, pre-planned letters, and visitations, brings more integrity to this meager feel-good confection than it deserves. She’s a delight to watch in action, even though we don’t buy the flesh-and-blood veracity of this role for a minute (well, maybe for a minute). What the heck: any performer whose filmography includes stunning performances in Boys Don’t Cry and Million Dollar Baby can withstand a clinker or two or three.
For all of the emotional warm pockets in the movie, problems of pacing and the nagging hobgoblins of TV sitcom aesthetics keep bringing it down, despite LaGravanese’s seemingly good intentions. Lisa Kudrow, who made her name in TV’s Friends, is saucy and brazen, but in a pinchable, sitcommy way, and the obvious way emo pop songs are ladled into the mix – telling us what to feel and when – reminds viewers of the sorry state of film music in the era of tyrannical “music supervision.” But these are the kinds of Scrooge-y thoughts that enter your dulled mind as its being massaged by a superficial popcorn movie speckled with beautiful people. Unfortunately, this tub-o-corn comes with too many burnt and undercooked kernels to make the experience worth the price of admission.
For showtimes, check the Independent’s movie listings, here.