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Simply Irresistible review

For an idea so seemingly concerned with delicate romantic triggers and sensual nuances, you might expect a little subtlety. Not from this heavily Disneyfied stew of clunky foreshadowing and crappy caricatures (self-obsessed yuppie girlfriend, stiff upper-management, uppity and unshaven French folk).

The trouble with the by-numbers rom-com is there's so little to look forward to. The rom is telegraphed (with a far too lingering stare) in the first scene, and the trend for the com is set equally early with a couple of pitiful attempts at dopey slapstick (collision with door-frame, paper plane caught in hairdo). Gellar is clearly here to soften up and shed a bit of the Buffy rigour, but there's barely a flicker of sizzle in her chemistry with the smarmy Flanery and, given the potential to play with the carnal-food angle, the sexuality is frustratingly U-cert.

It's all a shameless steal from 1993's Mexican arthouse hit Like Water For Chocolate, but both the first-time director and the writer ("Just be yourself!") don't have the ammo to take the emotion-as-food premise anywhere interesting.

Amanda's muse, an obviously animatronic crustacean, pops up occasionally, providing the only sense of tension (please God, don't let it start talking). Some of the imagery (jets of steam shooting from cooked apples, a fantasy tryst on an under-construction dancefloor) is reasonably handled, but it's lost in the limp acting and slipshod pace. There seems to be an attempt at transplanting a goody-goody Doris Day sensibility onto a curiously `80s-feel New York. And how unappealing does that sound?

Early on, Amanda's sous chef offers a theory: whenever men mess with their belts or put their hands in their pockets, they're thinking about sex. Which, as a pithy, quotable slice of aphorism, is, like the movie, flat as a flaccid soufflé.

An unremarkable, kitten-weak fable with a mumbled message about modern inhibitions. Clarkson, as Flanery's voice of reason, stirs in a bit of spike, but it's all ultimately poisoned by Mills & Boon cuteness and lack of lead charisma.

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