March 12 2010 12:00 AM

Thinking about seeing "Remember Me"? Forget it

    RM_007_DF_02422CR.jpg“Remember Me” is a tearjerker that won’t make you cry. It
    will, however, make you groan and squirm and possibly snore as it painstakingly
    details the lackluster love story of a bitter rich-kid-turned-rebel and a sunny
    social-worker-to-be brought together by police brutality. That may sound a bit
    peculiar but, as Al Jolson once said, you ain’t heard nothin’ yet.

    “Remember” is the kind of pet project that gets the go-ahead
    when its star becomes a surprise sensation (and, in this case, an executive
    producer) with some new-found box office clout. In this case, that would be
    Robert Pattinson, who became a household name and an international idol as the
    dark-eyed, ivory-skinned Edward Cullen, the heroic vampire condemned to an
    eternity of teen angst in the “Twilight” films.

    Pattinson is sharp enough to realize the sands are already
    running on the “Twilight” series — the third installment, “Eclipse,” opens June
    30, and “Breaking Dawn,” based on the final book in Stephenie Meyer’s
    quadrilogy, goes before the cameras this fall — and, if he wants to extend his
    cinematic shelf life he knows he’s got to act fast. Apparently, he also thinks
    he’s got to act like a misconceived mash-up of James Dean, Marlon Brando,
    Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino, which is exactly what he attempts to do, with only
    spotty success, throughout “Remember.”

    In the sizzling summer of 2001, Pattinson’s disaffected but
    dashing Tyler Hawkins has a temper that’s hotter than the New York sidewalks on
    which he mopes. But who wouldn’t be grimacing day in and day out if you were
    the son of an ultra-wealthy Irish lawyer (Pierce Brosnan) and a lovely Swedish
    mom (Lena Olin) who looks vaguely miserable even in her happiest moments? A
    little James Joyce and a little Ingmar Bergman makes for a whole lotta trouble.

    Tyler parties joylessly with Aidan (Tate Ellington), his
    chatterbox of a roommate, and a revolving chorus of anonymous babes until a
    street brawl brings him into close physical contact with Sgt. Neil Craig (Chris
    Cooper). For reasons that make sense only to screenwriter Will Fetters, testy
    Tyler takes on the sergeant and receives an artfully roughed-up face for his

    Hey, Aidan notes, that mean ol’ cop has a hot young daughter
    named Ally (Emilie de Ravin, best known as Claire from “Lost”). What if Tyler
    seduced and abandoned Ally? Aidan bets Tyler can’t pull it off; Tyler accepts
    the challenge.

    Payback is a bitch — and bitch, thy name is Tyler Hawkins.

    So “Remember” becomes one more of those “love on a dare”
    stories, as Tyler woos the oblivious Ally and discovers she’s a bit of a
    non-conformist, too: She insists on eating her mango ice cream before her
    dinner of lamb vindaloo because “I just don’t see the point in waiting.” After
    all, she notes, you never know when an asteroid could drop from the heavens and
    abruptly end everything, and after about 40 minutes of this movie, you may be
    praying for some sort of harsh astronomical intervention.

    Past tragedies hang over Tyler and Ally like the Sword of
    Damocles. She witnessed her mom’s murder in a subway station; he lost his older
    brother to suicide. He disapproves of the way his dad ignores his ex-wife and
    6-year-old daughter; she bristles at her father’s over-protectiveness. He
    smokes too much; she can’t handle her Jello shots. They must be made for each other.

    “Remember” falls into the same trap as the second “Twilight”
    film, “New Moon,” believing that excessive brooding and surly skulking are
    endlessly fascinating to watch. But striking the same tortured note again and
    again does not create a solemn symphony. The movie lumbers along at a
    near-funereal pace on its way to the inevitable “I never meant to hurt you”
    confrontation/revelation, giving you plenty of time to ponder such weighty
    questions as whether Pattinson will ever play a character who’s not dating a
    cop’s daughter.

    Then, in its final 10 minutes, “Remember” makes the leap
    from mere monotony to jaw-dropping ghastliness in a finale so staggeringly
    stupid it’s almost impossible not to laugh. “Twilight” flips over into “The
    Twilight Zone,” and the movie suddenly flies spectacularly off the rails,
    leaving you feeling simultaneously offended, bewildered and, perhaps, a little
    bit astonished that the filmmakers actually thought they might be able to get
    away with it.

    Ultimately, “Remember Me” sells a sermon about the
    importance of family unity and the message comes through, although perhaps not
    in the way Pattinson and company intended: As the lights came up, my
    almost-15-year-old niece turned to me and said, “I don’t ever want to see that
    movie again” — and I couldn’t have agreed with her more.

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