An insufferably self-satisfied romantic comedy that's even more irritatingly quirky than its title would suggest, Advice From A Caterpillar stars Sex And The City's Cynthia Nixon as a video artist so famous that she's constantly stopped on the street by admirers. In a smarter film, Nixon's unlikely fame—made even more unlikely by her art, which consists solely of adding horrifyingly overwritten voiceovers to old home videos—could make for an amusing running gag. But Caterpillar, in one of an endless series of miscalculations, takes her work seriously. Terrified of commitment and love, Nixon and gay best friend Andy Dick protect their fragile psyches through doomed sexual relationships, Nixon with married businessman Jon Tenney and Dick with hunky bisexual actor Timothy Olyphant. Nixon and Dick profess a desire to never become emotionally involved with anyone, but it takes them the entire film to figure out what sentient viewers will pick up after a few minutes: that behind their aloof façades, both are old-fashioned romantics dying to fall in love. Nixon gets her chance, conveniently enough, when Dick offers Olyphant to her as a casual sex partner, an arrangement that quickly develops into a more emotionally involved relationship. Playing like Chasing Amy rewritten by a poor man's Paul Rudnick, Advice From A Caterpillar rings false from start to finish, climaxing with a scene in a diner—in which lovable rednecks, old coots, and waitresses counsel the confused lovers with sassy wisecracks—cloying enough to make Nora Ephron blush. Nixon's work on Sex And The City hints at a sadness and complexity the show has never really developed, but she's undermined here by dialogue so glib and mannered that it makes City's pseudo-sophisticated banter sound like the height of neo-realism. Trite, unconvincing, and never as smart or daring as it fancies itself, Caterpillar proves that sexually ambiguous romantic comedies can be every bit as grating as their more traditional counterparts.

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