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IMAGINE ME AND YOU (article first published : 2006-11-19)

You know the sort of sweet, candyflossy, warm and cuddly romantic comedies that end predictably with characters finding true love while a quirky supporting cast usually also resolves its problems?

Oh, you know the ones - formulaic, commercial fare in which strangers usually break into spontaneous applause when the guy/girl, after an 11th hour wake-up call, races to stop his true love from making a getaway? It happens when he/she reaches him/her in the nick of time and falls into a kiss and cuddle, invariably with a classic pop song rising on the soundtrack to cue the final credits roll?

Well, welcome to yet another one, albeit with a slight twist, with Imagine Me And You. This time it's a case of girl meets girl, although the script was originally intended as a heterosexual love story, according to a fact file from the Internet Movie Data Base.

Clearly the film-makers, aware of the avalanche of banal clichés here, realised the lesbian angle was necessary to add pep to a script so tired and predictable it had me rolling eyes and peeping constantly at my watch.

We have a case of there goes the bride as British gal Rachel (lacklustre and toothy Coyote Ugly star Piper Perabo) ties the knot in London with longtime boyfriend Heck (Matthew Goode, a poor man's Hugh Grant, but not without charm).

But even as she walks down the aisle, Rachel realises she may not be doing the right thing. Her eyes catch those of a pretty stranger in the church - Luce (Lena Headey), who turns out to be the florist hired for her wedding - and by the time Luce helps Rachel to fish for the wedding ring she accidentally drops into the punch bowl at the reception, cupid bows are zinging threw the air.

From this point on it's a will-they-won't they connect, kiss and take things further scenario, while Heck starts to sense his wife is not what she used to be and, poor lamb, blames himself for her increasing lack of interest in him.

To add to Heck's hassles he has to put up with a painful pal, Coop (Darren Boyd), king of the snappy one-liner, who thinks of himself as a lady killer and tries to hit on Luce whenever he gets the chance, determined to prove he's the man to turn her straight.

Another side-plot deals with the shaky marriage of Rachel's oddball parents (the delicious Celia Imrie and Prince Charles soundalike Anthony Head). Plus there's a dollop of treacle by way of Rachel having a wiser-than-her-years, cute-as-a-button little sis, Beth (Sharon Horgan), aged 10, who asks odd questions throughout and provides a shoulder to cry on for the harassed Heck.

Writer-director Ol Parker is clearly trying to spin another charmer along the lines of the witty and warm Notting Hill or Four Weddings and a Funeral, but he fails dismally by trying far too hard, overdoing his better moments (a comedy sequence in a supermarket is milked far too long) and sketching few credible characters while striking too many false notes as his tale unfurls to its expected ending.

Imagine Me and You is not an awful film - there are some nice touches and a few amusing one-liners - but it's certainly one that is lacklustre in the extreme. Rating 5/10 – Billy Suter




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