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Attractive, Privileged "Romantics" Have Problems, Too

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Director Galt Niederhoffer's adaptation of her own novel stars Katie Holmes, Josh Duhamel, Anna Paquin, Elijah Wood, Malin Akerman and Adam Brody as a group of friends who come together for a wedding that will test a number of marriages and friendships.

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"The Romantics" is the latest film to revolve around reuniting a group of incestuous college friends for a weekend of sex and drugs, which is fine. But it takes writer-director Galt Niederhoffer nearly an hour to say anything interesting within this story.

Anna Paquin plays Lila, the wealthiest of the group, who is marrying Ted, Josh Duhamel, the handsome catch of the group. Naturally, Ted is still in love with Laura, who is (was?) Lila's best friend and has agreed to be the maid of honor, despite still being in love with Ted.

Along for the ride is a host of pretty 20-somethings played by Adam Brody (whose comedic timing and charm continue to go wasted), Elijah Wood (a rare breath of fresh air in an otherwise dull film) and Malin Ackerman (playing a stock pretty blonde).

Laura and Ted spend much of their time circling each other. We get long shots of Ted staring pensively out onto the ocean, or the gang laughing and drinking. In an effort to heighten the tension there are brushes with infidelity, but it’s clear that everyone except the folks in the love triangle are just white noise.

You know that feeling you get when you find yourself surrounded by a close-knit group of friends who speak their own shorthand and for whom everything is an inside joke? Watching "The Romantics" is kind of like that, but it lasts for more than 90 minutes and you can't excuse yourself to get a drink. Worse still, they're all so damn clever and thoughtful and educated one can only roll their eyes waiting for them to settle a decade-old argument about the proper reading of a poem.

Duhamel is much better than you might assume given his career to date, and Katie Holmes’ performance is a reminder that her talent and looks have been largely wasted for the past five years. Anna Paquin plays the petulant spoiled rich kid well enough, but doesn’t really get to show her chops until the end of the film.

The marching band music that plays over the processional at the wedding is perfect, giving the moment the right feeling of military precision and foreboding. And to Niederhoffer’s credit, there is no tidy ending -- it would be impossible to resolve everything in the length of a single motion picture. Unless that is, you’d tackled the issues an hour earlier.

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