Warner Bros. // 2007 // 127 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard (Retired) // May 6th, 2008
Sometimes there's only one thing left to say.
If this movie is anything to go by, some things are better left unsaid.
Facing up to life alone following the death of her husband Gerry from a brain tumor (Gerard Butler, 300), Holly (Hilary Swank, Boy's Don't Cry) finds herself unable to let go. However, in the time before his death, Gerry had put into place a plan to help Holly through this painful time.
On her thirtieth birthday, coming only a short time after Gerry's passing, Holly takes delivery of a parcel sent by Gerry. Opening it she finds a tape recorder containing a message from Gerry explaining how, in the coming months, she will receive a number of letters he wrote that will ease Holly into the next stage of her life; as Gerry says, "You made my life, but I'm just a chapter in yours." Quick, pass me the tissues!
Schmaltz, poor dialogue, and unconvincing Irish accents abound in director Richard LaGravenese's (Freedom Writers) adaptation of P.S. I Love You, a weepie that yearns to be the next Ghost yet ends up relegated to the same league as Ghost Dad, though thankfully with nary a Cosby sweater in site.
Beginning with a cliché-ridden opening scene that introduces us to Gerry and Holly as they bicker and share their grievances, P.S. I Love You starts poorly and never really recovers. Lacking any real balance and offering no real flow to the proceedings, you soon get the impression that, exploiting the popularity of the book, the filmmakers took its basic structure and crammed in all the components of a successful romantic comedy in a cynical attempt to appeal to fans and non-fans alike.
The result is a story that loses its identity and becomes a generic "chick flick." While this means numerous staples of the genre (family issues, girly nights out at the local karaoke bar, and "hilarious" misadventures during a vacation to Ireland) get included, making it all feel somewhat predictable, there are other elements of the "chick flick" that really don't sit right in this context and leave a slightly nasty taste in the mouth.
You see, by turning P.S. I Love You into a romantic comedy, it feels the need to offer Holly a new love interest, rather than settle for merely getting over the loss of her husband. Not content with just giving us one potential suitor, screenwriters Steven Rogers and Richard LaGravenese, give us two in the form of dimwitted and plain rude Daniel (Harry Connick Jr., Independence Day) and William (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, soon to be seen as The Comedian in Watchmen). Considering the film spans the first year following Gerry's death, it feels a little strange that Holly's friends (played by Gina Gershon and Lisa Kudrow) would be pushing her into the arms of the first man who comes along, rather than let her mourn at her own pace, yet push they do with no regard for their friend's fragile emotional state.
Although blessed with a cast that would be the envy of many films, P.S. I Love You seems quite happy to waste the talent at its disposal, giving us characters that lack any real depth. The characters of Daniel and William are fine examples of the problem, both are presented as love interests for the grieving Holly, yet both are really only sketches of real characters, there is nothing offered to suggest why either would be likely to win Holly's heart and certainly nothing to make us root for either of them. The real crime, though, must surely be having two Oscar-winning actresses (Hilary Swank and Kathy Bates) and giving them roles that are far below their considerable talents.
The final nail in the coffin is the dialogue. Even during the rare scenes in which P.S. I Love You raises its game and borders on being a decent movie, it shoots itself in the foot with cringe-inducing dialogue that wants to be profound but, when spoken aloud, is laughable. Who can forget such pearls of wisdom as: "Thing to remember is if we're all alone, then we're all together in that, too"?
Extras on the disc are slim and lacking in quality. Sure, you'll get to learn how to play Snaps, but a short conversation with Cecilia Ahern (author of the book) proves to be unremarkable and, if the film hasn't got you reaching for the barf bag, the James Blunt music video will.
Audio and video (presented in either full-screen or widescreen) on the disc are actually pretty good. The image is reasonably sharp with black levels that offer a little depth to the picture. The 5.1 Surround sound, though hardly on par with a blockbuster action movie, is hard to fault with a good, though subtle use of the rear speakers.
P.S. I Love You does have its moments, although they are too few and far between to save the movie. The flashback to Gerry and Holly's first meeting (though confusingly, there appear to be two first meetings) shows the potential this movie had and how, given a little more consideration, the movie as a whole could have been so much more. The combination of simple, unpretentious dialogue, with its two leads offering up natural performances provides one of the few enjoyable scenes in the entire 127-minute running time.
Wasted potential is all P.S. I Love You ultimately amounts to. The film's incoherent structure, complete lack of character development, and woeful dialogue are too much for its fine cast to save. Given some steady guidance and the wisdom to keep the comedy in check, this could have ended up an engaging, if somewhat somber, effort. Instead, jumping too abruptly from sad moments to goofy comedy quickly drains any emotion from the film, leaving it a strangely cold experience.
Guilty. P.S. Let's not see each other anymore.
Review content copyright © 2008 Paul Pritchard; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 127 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Additional Scenes
* A Conversation with Cecelia Ahern
* James Blunt "Same Mistake" Music Video
* "The Name of the Game is Snaps": Learn How to Play
* Official Site