Jealousy, revenge, justice and romance are dishes that the studios delight in serving up. But this stir-fry of the whole shebang, presented as a big-budget rom-com, and with the talents of Broderick and Ryan as punter-pullers, amounts to a vaguely amusing but ultimately disappointing dish. Addicted To Love is as predictable as a stopped clock, and takes less risks. You know what's going to happen right from the off, and the only question is whether the 90 or so minutes between the beginning and the foregone conclusion can hold your attention.
The script, penned by first-timer Gordon, is blessed with sporadic flashes of wit and some genuinely chuckly scenes (Maggie and Sam release a nest of cockroaches into Anton's posh restaurant - ho, ho), but the dialogue is telegraphed and bland. Broderick, the guy obsessed with his ex, and Ryan, the '90s bitch desperate for some emotional payback, churn out all the script-doctored one-liners we've come to expect from modern studio movies. Both are given their slapstick routines while being put through the emotional wringer, following Hollywood convention to the (laborious) letter.
Dunne's directing is little consolation. Granted, the writer/director of 1995 flick the Duke Of Groove (yes, that one escaped us too) does come up with some well-constructed shots (there's an impressive segment in which a spy camera projects Anton and Linda's horizontal horseplay onto Sam's basement wall). But each scene is glaringly over-emphasised, and Dunne wastes time spelling out the subtle nuances to what he must have assumed is a brain-dead audience, leaving it in no doubt as to exactly what each individual chunk of action is about.
So what's to stop you getting your coat? Meg Ryan, for a start. Thankfully, she doesn't give us another of her scatter-brained French Kiss blondes. Instead she plays a sinister, black-make-up, don't-mess-with-me-or-I'll-cut-your-balls-off kinda girl, and pulls it off surprisingly well. Broderick, whose career seems to have had one Ferris Bueller-shaped high and far too many forgettable lows (Infinity, The Cable Guy, The Road To Wellville) acquits himself no more than averagely; much of his boyish charm has slipped away over the years. (It'll be interesting to see how he handles his next project, the FX-stuffed monster jaunt Godzilla.)
In support, Karyo's obnoxious French git character Anton gives the film a glimmer of the fizzy pep it so desperately needs. But Kelly Preston's Linda is so forgettable and so nondescript you're left wondering if this is really the same actress who was righ`tly lauded for her performance in Jerry Maguire (she was little Tom Cruise's delicious bitch-queen fiancée).
Addicted To Love has a stimulating premise, and should have made for a great feature, but the two leads lack any real on-screen chemistry. From the start, you know that Broderick and Ryan are going to get it on, but it's difficult to convince yourself that the foxy star of Courage Under Fire and Sleepless In Seattle would ever kiss, let alone hop into bed with, the insipid, wet-fish character Broderick treats us to here. Yes, the overall experience is mildly entertaining (Addicted's video prospects look fairly good), but the plot is way too drawn-out, resulting in a film that will gratify only Meg Ryan obsessives, or those of you looking for a more inventive way of wreaking vengeance on your former lover. After this, cutting up his Paul Smith suit seems a bit tame.
Meg Ryan surprises her fans by getting her perfect teeth into a bitchy role: this is a romantic comedy that offers 101 inventive ways to get your own back on your lousy ex. Occasionally entertaining, largely tiresome - we suggest you wait six months for the video, or a year for the satellite screening.