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Can Kutcher and Diaz save the rom-com?

George Clooney, Renee Zellweger and Patrick Dempsey also step into the ring in the attempt to breathe life back into the genre.
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Remember when romantic comedies were funny? If you’re under 40, you may not. But Hollywood takes another stab at the genre anyway with pairings like George Clooney and Renee Zellweger, Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz, and Patrick Dempsey and Michelle Monaghan. Let’s hope someone breathes some life back into this much-maligned genre.


“Forgetting Sarah Marshall”
Jason Segel, Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, Russell Brand, Bill Hader, Kala AlexanderDirector: Nick StollerStory: After his girlfriend Sarah (Bell) breaks up with him, Peter (Segal) can’t get her out of his head, so he decides to take a trip to Hawaii. But bad news, she’s just happens to be staying in the same hotel with her new rock star boyfriend (Brand). Beautiful resort employee Rachel (Kunis) may be just the person to cheer him up. One to watch? Yes. When Judd Apatow (“Knocked Up”) is one of the producers, and the cast features not only “Freaks and Geeks” alumus Segal, but also most of the rest of the Apatow gang (including Hader, Paul Rudd, Jonah Hill) there’s a very good chance that the movie will be funny. Yes, this is another one of those boy-trapped-in-a-man’s body movies, but the Apatow gang tends to imbue these tales with heart. This is Stoller’s (who was a writer on Apatow’s “Undeclared”) first directorial effort. Segal wrote the screenplay. He told, “What I like more than hearing the words I’ve written out loud is hearing stuff I‘ve written improved by the actors. These guys are just amazing. I got really, really lucky.” Coming: April 18Web site:

George Clooney, Renée Zellweger, John Krasinski, Jonathan Pryce, Stephen Root, Ezra Buzzington, John Vance, Dan John MillerDirector: George ClooneyStory: Set in the 1920s, Dodge Connolly (Clooney) is a football hero determined to keep his team afloat after the league’s sponsor pulls out. He finds an All-American war hero (Krasinski) to be his new star player, but is the kid all that he seems? Ace reporter Lexie Littleton (Zellweger) is determined to find out. But will she be taken in by Dodge’s charms instead? One to watch? Magic 8-ball says, no. Sight unseen, this feels like Clooney trying to recreate some of that Coen brothers’ magic, but even they stumbled when they attempted a period comedy (“Hudsucker Proxy”). Jennifer Jason Leigh can probably tell Zellweger what a thankless job it is to spend a movie imitating Rosalind Russell circa “His Girl Friday.” The sports-centric romantic comedy just seems like a lose-lose scenario audience-wise. Clooney recently told Peter Guber and Peter Bart of AMC’s “Shootout” that he’s a huge Preston Sturges (“The Palm Beach Story”) fan, which is admirable, but quite a lofty goal to reach for. On his Web site, Clooney said, “With any luck, we set up a few classic sports moments and then sort of poop all over them. That's our hope.” Coming: April 4Web site:

“Made of Honor”
Patrick Dempsey, Michelle Monaghan, Kevin McKidd, Kathleen Quinlan, Sydney PollackDirector: Paul WeilandStory: Tom (Dempsey) is thrilled to be able to sleep with any woman he wants while at the same time having the beautiful Hannah (Monaghan) as his best friend. When she goes to Scotland for six weeks, he realizes that his feelings are more than friendly. He plans to tell her, but she returns with a fiancé (McKidd) and asks Tom to be her maid of honor. He agrees but only so he can attempt to win her love.One to watch? No. Dempsey may be planning his post-McDreamy big-screen life, but this predictable flick (don’t you already know the ending?) isn’t going to get him there. Co-writer Deborah Kaplan is also responsible for the less-than-special “Surviving Christmas,” “Can’t Hardly Wait” and “A Very Brady Sequel.” Director Weiland is primarily known for his work on the British “Mr. Bean” TV show. Monaghan (“Gone Baby Gone”) and McKidd (HBO’s “Rome”) are unlikely to save this flick from being anything more than a good movie to watch on cable. Coming: May 2Web site: