Harry Potter!
Cinema Signal:

Take Her, She's Yours!
or Till Divorce Do Us Part

. "After the Sunset"

Love and comedy go together like fertilizer and flowers. To plug the gap for a needful demographic comes this romantic comedy in the holiday season. Let's whip it up with a little jewel thievery, a thief smooth enough to slide through rose thorns, a hot compadre, a south sea island getaway, an FBI pursuer, and you have all the ingredients for a nice, escapist fling at the movies.

Purportedly, Max (Pierce Brosnan) and Lola (Salma Hayek) are equally masterful in the occupation of jewel heisting. They're partners professionally, and in a mutual sexual obsession. From where I sit (as a guy), who can blame him? The babe's all she's supposed to be, and the voyeuristic camera angles are perfectly all right. But, actually, Hayek's so finely put together no emphasis is required.

Mmmm... back to business. As partners in crime, he seems to be the one to come up with the nifty capers, electronic gadgetry, a platoon of co-conspirators, research up the gazoo, infallible planning, etc. In the first sequence, to demonstrate what the guy's got, he operates a remote control to lock his arch nemesis, Agent Lloyd (Woody Harrelson), up in his own armored FBI SUV while chained to a case holding the Napoleon diamond #2. With his joy stick (adding new meaning to the term), Max then drives the startled agent away from his dropoff point and into Max's and Lola's lair. Never mind that it's all executed from within the protective arms of a platoon of FBI guys. That makes the caper all the more delicious. Max is the best.

But it makes Poor Agent Lloyd look bad. He looks very bad. They don't take his gun and badge away, but they tell him to take a hike while they figure out what to do with him. Some downtime will do him and the agency some good.

Meanwhile, gorgeous Lola is getting her way and the thieving couple flee to gleeful retirement on that Caribbean island, where they sate themselves on lobster and suckers. Just as it's getting old, wouldn't you know it, Napoleon diamond #3 comes whistling into port aboard the latest cruise ship, rescuing them from the the boredoms of Paradise. This gift from the gods of contrivance is followed by -- you guessed it -- Agent Lloyd. He meets sensational looking local policeperson Sophie (Naomie Harris) who renders aid, while the island's kingpin (Don Cheadle) is nothing but urbane and sophisticated in pressing Max to partner up in the diamond capture. Granted, the feat will be as impossible as it is inevitable.

I hate to be the one with the cold ice shower, but this fun in the sun suffers from too much sun block in the credibility department. Some of us might not care since it's a nice plunge into laughs and diversion. Others might feel it a little less than cleverly devised.

Brosnan is a man whose characters know a things or two about living in the lap of luxury while staying a step or two ahead of his law-enforcement pursuers. He's the anti-hero we love and admire. And, if I didn't know any better, I'd say he had more than his usual level of chemistry with his co-star, in this case, the unignorably physiqued Selma Hayak. The pair make their mutual attraction believable just by kissing passionately every chance they get. They don't seem to be phoning it in and there's no remote control in the romance department. Well, maybe they're just fine actors, but one should appreciate their perfectly rowdy way of making a success of a romantic comedy.

It is successful as far as its intentions go. Its charms are as pretty as the seaside sunset, and will be as quick to fade.

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                                      ~~  Jules Brenner  

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