• Bloating a standard romantic comedy into an $85 million, 138-minute lumbering monstrosity
• Packing relentless artificiality into everything from the painfully overdecorated sets to the big, fakey acting to the patronizing Love Stories For Dummies dialogue
• Being precious, cutesy-poo, and extensively nauseating
Defenders: Writer-director Nancy Meyers, composer Hans Zimmer, production designer Jon Hutman, editor Joe Hutshing
Tone of commentary: Control-freaky. Meyers does the talking; for the first hour, the others only speak when spoken to. Meyers explains her camera coverage and cinematic influences, but also gets obsessively into tiny details, explaining the narrative significance behind everything from Jude Law's tie to restaurant-table positioning to a pot of flowers in the background to what's going on in the characters' minds—as if they weren't already explaining it themselves and miming it with broad gestures.
What went wrong: Very little, possibly because of the huge budget. For instance, when Meyers needed a picturesque English cottage and the one her crew found was too isolated, they just built a new one. At one point, an editor did protest over a typically overlong, draggy scene, whereupon Meyers dutifully cut it from nine minutes down to "eight and change."
Comments on the cast: Meyers wrote the story for these stars, then signed them; she scored cameos from Dustin Hoffman, Lindsay Lohan, and James Franco because they're her personal friends. (Possibly this is why Meyers' films are so artificial; she herself lives in a magical, perfect fantasyland.)
Inevitable dash of pretension: Cameron Diaz's white pajamas are inspired by "films of the '30s"; Kate Winslet's spastic flailing comes courtesy of Carole Lombard in Nothing Sacred; a dreary love montage was originally cut to the score from Claude Lelouch's A Man And A Woman; Diaz and Jude Law are meant to evoke Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn; the films of Billy Wilder blah blah blah…
Commentary in a nutshell: Hutshing shows up half an hour into the commentary, while Zimmer leaves after an hour to get back to scoring Pirates Of The Caribbean 3. Clearly, even the crew can't sit through this endless movie.