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Groundhog Day 

An interesting idea - following a friendship on the same day every year - is made really uninteresting.

click to enlarge B-o-o-o-o-ring
  • B-o-o-o-o-ring

You take two people who should be together but can't quite figure out how to do it and instead try to live their lives with others who are far less compatible.

I’m sure there are certain audiences who like this kind of thing. I couldn’t wait for it to be over. It’s a woefully miscast, drearily written, shamefully manipulative exercise in leading an audience on for the first 90 minutes, then hitting them with rabbit punches to the stomach for the last 15.

It starts with Emma and Dexter (Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess), who meet on the day of their college graduation — that would have been on July 15, 1988, as the film blatantly points out.

Then the story gets around to dropping in on them — sometimes with each other, sometimes alone, sometimes with others — on that same date every year, right up through 2006 (and yes, the film feels that long).

How about the decision to put Brooklyn gal Anne Hathaway in the role of a Brit? Truth be told, she handles the accent quite well, for a few minutes. Then it mysteriously goes away. Then it’s back. Then it’s gone.

At least Sturgess is actually English. But that’s not much help when both his Dexter and Hathaway’s Emma are such dullards. She suffers through an unending waitressing job while waiting to be discovered as a writer. He shuffles aimlessly through life, grabbing on to pieces of glitzy pop TV careers.

But this is supposed to be about their everlasting friendship, one in which he continually makes it clear that he wants more and she always puts on the brakes and makes new prudish rules.

Oh, they go off and find mates, and before long they begin wondering about what it would’ve been like if ... but do I really need to finish the sentence? The film is a major disappointment from director Lone Scherfig, who made the excellent An Education.

It would be nice to root for these two folks, but there are doubts that they would be any happier even if they were together. Part of the problem is due to the flat performances the actors give, but most of it has to go to the repetitive writing and the lifeless direction.

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