Josh Duhamel, Katie Holmes, The Romantics

Paramount Pictures

Review in a Hurry: Just in time for hurricane season, this perfect storm of pretentiousness blows into a theater near you. During one interminable night, seven annoying college alums (including Katie Holmes) reunite to drink, pontificate and watch two friends get married by the sea. Heed this warning—evacuate!

The Bigger Picture: Oh those pretty, pouty, privileged kids and their problems...The titular Romantics are a clique of twentysomething Ivy Leaguers nicknamed for their incestuous dating history. But there's not a whit of credibility to their supposed entanglements—or to this contrived romantic drama, which strives for profundity by playing pop ballads as characters stare out at the turgid waves. It's about as deep as an Abercrombie ad.

The natty preppies in St. Elmo's Fire, er, The Romantics gather at the waterfront estate of bride Lila (Anna Paquin), who's due to wed Tom (Josh Duhamel) the following day. The maid of honor is writer Laura (Holmes)—Lila's best friend and Tom's former longtime girlfriend. Laura puts on a stoic face but still pines for her brooding ex-beau.  

After an awkward rehearsal dinner, the liquored-up buds go skinny-dipping in the surf and lose track of the groom. (Got a hangover yet?) They divide up to search for Tom but instead just drink more, snort coke, make out and whine about their post-grad lives...wah, wah, wah...until dawn.

Meanwhile, Tom hides out on the shore, torn between two lovers—rich, controlling Lila and passionate, literate Laura. Whom will he pick? Who cares? By the time Tom and Laura are spouting Keats poetry and sucking face under a tree, you'll wish the ocean would just open up and swallow them all.

Perhaps Galt Niederhoffer, who adapted her own novel and directs, intended a restless indie vibe with the grainy look and shaky camerawork, but the effect only proves distracting. Far worse is her penchant for affected dialogue and lengthy speeches, which trip up her attractive young cast. At one point Tom opines, "All this is tragic and debatably interesting." Nah, not so debatable.

The 180—a Second Opinion: Elijah Wood plays wonderfully against type as a smarmy prick in a bowtie. He deserves a lot more screen time.


Photos: Totally New Releases

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