P.P.S. Judge Ryan Keefer says that if you want to see a movie with Ireland as its background, then leprechauns and drunken hooligans MIGHT be a good idea.
Our review of P.S. I Love You, published May 6th, 2008, is also available.
Sometimes there's only one thing left to say.
I'm not sure what it is about Hilary Swank, but when she's not appearing in Oscar winners like Million Dollar Baby and Boys Don't Cry, her other films that are supposed to have some more broad-based audience appeal wind up falling flat and are not at all worth the time. So when she was paired up with the acting flavor of the month in Gerard Butler (300), everyone seemed to eviscerate this film. So now that it's out on high definition, is P.S. I Love You the bee's knees?
Facts of the Case
P.S. I Love You is from the Cecelia Ahern novel which Richard LaGravenese (Freedom Writers) both adapted and directed. Swank and Butler play Holly and Gerry, a happily married couple, in which Holly is more of the conservative orifice mindset and businesswoman, while Gerry is more of the free spirit. Gerry succumbs to a brain tumor which devastates Holly, as she met Gerry while she was in college on vacation in Ireland, where an almost instant chemistry was struck between them, and she loved him deeply in the nine years since they met. On her 30th birthday, Holly receives a package which includes a tape from Gerry and outlines Gerry's plans from the grave, mwhahahaha…
Dear Cecelia Ahern,
I'm not entirely sure who you were before I started diving into the work that is P.S. I Love You, but apparently your novel that served as the film's source material drew quite a few recognizable names to this production. I mean, aside from Swank and Butler, the film brought in Kathy Bates (Misery) as Holly's mother, and Holly's sister Sharon is played by Gina Gershon (Showgirls), while her best friend Denise is Lisa Kudrow (Friends). LaGravenese put together quite a family for Holly, and you should be proud. Shoot, the male companions for some of the characters in the film aren't slouches either, for that matter. Sharon's husband is John (James Marsters, Smallville), Denise's boyfriend is Tom (Dean Winters, 30 Rock), and Holly's post-Gerry encounter is with his close friend Billy (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Supernatural). Holly seems to waffle between a desired relationship with him and Daniel (Harry Connick Jr., Hope Floats), who works at the bar that Holly's mother owns. So with a lot of people who have either flirted with, or had heavy petting in the romantic comedy genre, there's quite a talented bunch there.
You know what? Maybe it was the lack of sleep, maybe it was the box of wine, or maybe it was the fact that I'm kind of on this urge to run counter to the critical and popular opinion, there were large parts of the movie that were fairly emotional and almost transcendent in that ability. The concept of a widow following her husband's wishes, via letter and beyond the grave is a little creepy at first, but it seems like the nature of Gerry's character, a guy who was fun and a little bit magical, makes you want to take the ride a little bit. After seeing Butler in 300, I can't say I was expecting much, but he truly lifted the material past what was written and possibly what it deserved. He's the pleasant surprise of the film beyond a shadow of a doubt.
And with such a pleasant journey going on, which has Holly doing things like singing karaoke and buying a lamp, small symbols that help bring closure to the relationship, or a trip to Ireland with Sharon and Denise, which is designed to meet Gerry's family for the first time since the funeral, you get a nice moment there as well. In fact, LaGravenese spends too much time on the journey that you might have wanted him to remember that there was more of a story that had to be told, and it felt very rushed at the end. When Holly takes on a little bit of character improvement post-Gerry, Sharon and Denise are left out and almost lash out at her with a bit of a pseudo-lithium imbalance. And not only is the inclusion of Daniel a puzzling one, but the fact that Connick is here seems a little bit wasteful. He appears for a few scenes, disappears, and it's almost as if LaGravenese has to tie up the loose ends before the movie ends. Why, oh why, would he bother? Were you not on set when this was going on?
And I'm not entirely sure why the folks at Warner would give P.S. I Love You such an underwhelming technical release on a film that was just in theatres a few months ago. There's some background image depth and detail on this 2.40:1 widescreen disc, but on Blu-ray the colors feel dull, the tighter shots don't have too much detail, and in some sequences on this VC-1 encoded transfer, the blacks look horrible. This could have looked better, but didn't. The TrueHD soundtrack is much in that same vein, the dialogue is muted, even if it's focused in the center channel, but speaker tanning is nonexistent, as well as directional activity and subwoofer engagement. A sonic experience this is not.
Cecelia, I know you probably would have participated more in the extras on this disc if you could, but there's not a lot here to make one appreciate your work. No commentary, no making-of featurette, no nothing. An eight-minute conversation with you is nice, as it talks about your thoughts on how the book came about and later how the book became a film, and it's nice, it really is, but it feels like this shouldn't be the longest piece on the disc. And the five-minute look at the "snaps" game is different, but it would have been better if the game wasn't so, um, stupid. Twelve minutes of deleted scenes (with some bloopers) are included, including a shot where Winters' character was almost written out, and brain tumor Gerry is shown, but I completely agree with both decisions. A music video by James Blunt rounds things out.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
To be fair, you said some good words about Swank in the film, and she does manage to do the whole "romcom" lead character fairly well. She shows more emotional range than I was expecting (yes, I know she won two Oscars), and her vulnerability is on display for the public to watch. And while the performance is commendable, part of me thinks that if there was another woman who was a little softer in appearance and emotionally dynamic cast as Holly, maybe more people would have enjoyed it.
Well, you get a shabby Blu-ray disc with a near-minimum of supplemental material combined with a film that seems to peter out the more it goes on. And on. And on. The first two-thirds of P.S. I Love You were solid and even accomplished, but the last third seemed more than a little bit out of place and simply baffling in parts. Would people go see a two-hour romantic comedy? Sure, if given the right material and execution. So I'd give this a soft recommendation to rent as long as you stop the film about five minutes after they come back from Ireland.
Sorry Cecelia, the filmmakers tried, they did, they just couldn't finish the deal.
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