JUST WRIGHT and LETTERS TO JULIET

There are two pleasant, moderately entertaining romantic comedies to choose from this week in the Triad.  Both try to put a new wrinkle in a very old narrative, but they are as predictable, in the end, as fans of the genre expect (and probably wish) them to be.

Just Wright stars Queen Latifah as a physical therapist named Leslie Wright who is obsessed with the New Jersey Nets.  A chance encounter with the team’s star leads to…well…to complications on the way to true love.  I think Queen Latifah is terrific in general, but she’s a bit subdued in this film.  Still, it’s good to see Paula Patton in a totally different role (than the good teacher Ms. Rain in Precious) and also nice to see Pam Grier and Phylicia Rashad get a little screen time as moms.

Letters to Juliet adds a few plot twists and some gorgeous Italian locations to the standard fare, but in the end it, too, is predictable.  Amanda Seyfried comes close to transcending the material.  She plays a woman named Sophie who is engaged to a gorgeous chef more interested in epicurean delights than in his fiancée  – he has a hard time listening to her when there is a glass of wine or a slice of cheese or a pastry nearby – and Seyfried has the best support available with Vanessa Redgrave, who is pursuing a long lost love of her own.  The whole affair is accomplished but predictable nonetheless.

Maybe that’s okay.  After all, real life seldom turns out this way, so why not engage in a bit of fantasy at the movies?

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