Dave's Rating:


… like if Saw IV was a romantic comedy …

Who's in It: Hilary Swank, Gerard Butler, Gina Gershon, Kathy Bates, Lisa Kudrow, Harry Connick Jr.

The Basics: A dead guy sends his grieving widow notes and tape-recorded messages from beyond the grave, giving her little homework assignments like singing karaoke and buying new outfits that are supposed to help her get on with her life. So it's kind of like what would happen if Saw IV was a romantic comedy or if Sex and the City was about death.

What's the Deal? There's the tough cry, and there's the easy cry. Which one do you want? Because if it's the tough cry you're after, then you rent the Julie Christie-gets-Alzheimer's movie Away From Her, and you let it put you through the wringer in a way that feels like real life did it to you. The easy cry, however, is the kind you want sometimes when you're feeling lazy, and you skulk off to the nearest multiplex at noon on a Wednesday wearing stained sweats and a big parka and a ski cap and dark sunglasses, and you eat those cinnamon pretzels they serve at concession. You know it's dorky, but you're letting it happen to you anyway because you're feeling run down from all the stress of life. So go ahead and allow yourself to wallow. Just don't brag about it later.

About That Sex and the City Reference Above: Like the sitcom, this really does feel like the kind of woman's movie that a gay man would write and direct. Evidence: Swank does a spot-on Judy Garland impersonation while singing "The Man That Got Away"; at one point, she wistfully wishes to be Bette Davis; both hunky male leads are shirtless and or naked at various points in the film; it co-stars Showgirls icon Gershon; and the dead husband's notes contain supportive sentiments like "You go, girl!"

Also? It Cheats: One of those easy cry moments occurs early when, at the dead husband's memorial, they play the Pogues song "Fairytale of New York." And if you haven't heard it, it's like the world's saddest Christmas song ever (after Joni Mitchell's "River"). If you have heard it, then you know that it's your cue to begin weeping and not to stop until the final credits.

Funniest Support Staff: Kudrow, as usual.


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