'Some Kind of Beautiful': Film Review

An unconvincing fantasy of a playboy's rehabilitation.

Salma Hayek takes the sting out of age-appropriate dating for Pierce Brosnan.

A sour attempt at midlife-redemption feel-good fare, Tom Vaughan's Some Kind of Beautiful watches an aging cad as he finally encounters the joys of family. Matthew Newman's script plays an awful lot like a non-apology for shallow living, letting our womanizing hero (Pierce Brosnan) make the transition from habitual dishonesty to heroic father while giving up next to nothing. (Unless, that is, you count trading a string of affairs with pretty undergrads for permanent sexual union with Salma Hayek as a step down.) These two actors and costar Jessica Alba ensure some box office attention, and the pic's cheap rom-com button pushing may be enough to sate some viewers in a marketplace currently light on romance. But from laughs to smarts to a credible interest in rehabilitation, lovers of love would do better to go see Trainwreck again.

Brosnan plays Richard, a Cambridge professor who, like his dad before him (Malcolm McDowell), woos nubile students with bad-boy talk about the Romantic poets. When he knocks one of these student-girlfriends up (Alba's Kate), it's only the example of his shallow old man that convinces him to marry her and move to Los Angeles.

Surprisingly, the bachelor is a natural-born dad: Watch as he coos "do you want the boobie now?" to his young son as insipid singer-songwriter fare urges you to swoon in the background. He loves the kid so much he doesn't seem to mind having swapped dignified tweeds for baby-blue blazers and educated students for community-college numbskulls who stare blankly as he quotes Lear. Life is peachy for a couple of years, until Kate leaves him for a finance dude (Ben McKenzie) and exiles him to the pool house — where he lives for a couple of years, doting on his kid and annoying his ex.

Around the time Richard's old irresponsible ways start to catch up to him, Kate's sister Olivia (Hayek) comes to housesit during Kate's vacation. This would be the sister Richard attempted to pick up in a bar an hour before Kate told him she was pregnant, and Olivia is still indignant about his womanizing. In fact, the film is a round robin of characters who have no claim to the moral high ground getting full of righteous indignation at others who are no worse or better.

After the usual "I just can't stand you!" foreplay and a bit of forced outrageousness lifted badly from When Harry Met Sally, Richard and Olivia hook up in a chemistry-free sequence, falling into a love they must deny out of deference to Kate because — wait, why, exactly?

Lest we spend too much time wondering why the woman who betrayed her husband with a coworker would object to him making her sister happy, the picture brings Richard's dad across the pond for some cross-generational bonding and contrives some very silly drama about green-card interviews and a possible professorship at a better school. Let's not even discuss Richard's manacled deportation and a run-to-her sequence whose trivialization of Mexico-to-America immigration is almost bizarre. The last act flows awkwardly enough one suspects it's a tenth attempt to re-edit material everyone agrees doesn't work — and builds to a final, all-smiles coda that fairly screams "can we just do this one helicopter shot and pretend everybody's going to buy it?"

Production companies: Southpaw Entertainment, Irish DreamTime

Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Salma Hayek, Jessica Alba, Ben McKenzie, Malcolm McDowell

Director: Tom Vaughan

Screenwriter: Matthew Newman

Producers: Richard Barton Lewis, Beau St. Clair, Kevin Frakes, Raj Brinder Singh, Remington Chase, Grant Cramer, Simon Orange

Executive producers: Matthew Newman, Stepan Martiroysan, Stuart Brown, Mike Sullivan

Director of photography: David Tattersall

Production designer: John Collins

Costume designer: Lizzy Gardiner

Editor: Matthew Friedman

Music: David Newman

Casting director: Sande Alessi

R, 99 minutes