It begins as a sweet, simple love story. A flirtatious waitress named Lucy (Kate Hudson) falls for a man named Adam (Stuart Townsend). All the other men in Lucy’s life pursued her, but Adam lets her take the lead. Once she does, he is charming to her family, and a thoughtful and romantic boyfriend. She proposes to him in front of a restaurant full of people, including her whole family, and he accepts.
For most movies, that would be followed by “the end” and the credits. But this one is just getting going. The clock turns back and we see the same set of events through the eyes of Lucy’s siblings, all of whom have romantic problems for which Adam seems to provide the ideal solution. Lucy’s sister Laura (Frances O’Connor), a graduate student, dreams of a man with whom she can share the poetry that is so meaningful to her. Their brother David is about to explode with longing for his girlfriend, a virgin who says she wants to stay that way. And another sister, bored with her marriage, would like some excitement. Somehow, Adam provides it all, and then some.
It is fun to see what is going on behind the scenes of the original story, and there are some sly parallels, as when different family members hear different stories about Adam’s fancy car. The story could be cynical — after all, it is about betrayal, deception, and infidelity. But Adam’s ability to go straight to the heart of each person’s desire gives it a whimsical, almost magical tone that keeps it as light as a bubble. Hudson has less of a star turn than she had in “Almost Famous,” but she is bewitching, especially when she sings the standards that provide a nice ironic counterpoint to the various love stories.
And love stories they are — Adam is not manipulative and indeed might think of himself as happily manipulated by others. He is not trying to do anything but make everyone happy, and he has such a knack for it that even the audience cannot help being a little charmed.
Parents should know that the movie has strong language, and fairly explicit sexual references and situations, including infidelity and (unconsummated) homosexual feelings. Characters drink, sometimes to excess, and they smoke. There are some tense scenes, but no violence.
Families who see this movie should talk about how Adam figured out what each member of the family wanted, and how the various secrets and lies around his involvement with each of them might create problems in the future. They might also want to talk about times when they have felt pressure to be something different in order to make someone happy.
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “Local Hero.”