Phil Caruso, Warner Bros. Pictures
Hilary Swank stars as Holly Kennedy in "P.S. I Love You."

P.S. I LOVE YOU — ** — Hilary Swank, Gerard Butler, Harry Connick Jr.; rated PG-13 (vulgarity, profanity, brief sex, brief partial nudity, slapstick violence, slurs, brief drugs)

"P.S. I Love You" commits several cinematic blunders, but the biggest one may be its attempt to turn Hilary Swank into a romantic lead.

Swank is a fine actress, as demonstrated by her Academy Award-winning lead turns in both "Million Dollar Baby" and "Boys Don't Cry." But neither performance indicated she had the right skills for a comedy-drama/fantasy like this one.

It's no wonder she seems out of sorts. The whole film does, in fact. Co-screenwriter/director Richard LaGravenese has turned Cecelia Ahern's best-selling novel into two-hour-long sitcom. It's the unholy cross of "Sex in the City" and "Will & Grace," with some bits from the cinematic soap "Hope Floats" thrown in for good measure.

Swank stars as Holly Kennedy, who's just recently lost the love of her life — limousine driver Gerry (Gerard Butler), to whom she was married for 10 years.

Obviously, Holly's devastated by his death, and her mother (Kathy Bates), best friends (Lisa Kudrow and Gina Gershon, in go-nowhere roles) and a would-be suitor (Harry Connick Jr.) can't console her.

But then she receives messages from beyond the grave — in the form of a series of letters to Holly from Gerry, who wrote them before he died. These missives urge the young widow to move on and start living again.

There are some eerie similarities between this film and January's Jennifer Garner vehicle "Catch and Release," except that "P.S." feels even more contrived, if that's possible.

And Swank really does look uncomfortable here. Thankfully, Butler does show some charm, even if someone should have told the Scottish actor that his natural burr is not the same thing as an Irish brogue. (His character is supposed to be Irish but sounds unconvincing.)

"P.S. I Love You" is rated PG-13 for vulgar sexual references and language (mostly slang), scattered profanity, brief simulated sex and other sexual contact (implied), brief partial male nudity, slapstick violence (a pair of comic pratfalls), slurs based on sexual preference and a pair of drug references. Running time: 126 minutes.


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