Pass up date with Last Chance Harvey

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By Matt Brunson

LAST CHANCE HARVEY

*1/2

DIRECTED BY Joel Hopkins

STARS Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson

Last Chance Harvey is the sort of insipid romantic comedy that, had it starred a pair of 20-somethings or 30-somethings, would be instantly dismissed by one and all. But because it stars two seasoned performers -- Oscar winners, both -- it will be championed in some quarters as a sweet look at how older folks can actually -- are you ready? -- enjoy many of the same things as the young'uns. See them flirt! See them dance! See them fall in love! Truth be told, it's all a bit insulting -- a patronizing sop to an underserved movie demographic that doubtless was largely responsible for turning the equally torturous The Bucket List into a box office hit at this time last year.

The 71-year-old Dustin Hoffman stars as Harvey Shine, while 49-year-old Emma Thompson plays Kate Walker. He's an American arriving in London for the marriage of his estranged daughter (Liane Balaban); cut from the same cloth as the salesmen from Glengarry Glen Ross, he's a self-absorbed loser who rubs practically everyone the wrong way. She's a Brit whose single status worries her busybody mom (Eileen Atkins) and lands her on blind dates with insensitive doofuses. Rather than "meet cute," the film has Harvey and Kate "meet ugly" in an airport bar, and their testy banter easily marks this scene as the movie's best. Unfortunately, the rest is both forced and tired, complete with a music video-style montage (really, people?), the missed date that threatens to derail the whole relationship, and even the added strain of a nonsensical subplot in which Kate's mum suspects her Polish neighbor of burying bodies in his backyard. While he's at it, maybe he can shovel a few scoops of dirt onto this film's prints as well.

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