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Trial And Error

In Trial And Error, Jeff Daniels plays a high-powered lawyer who takes on what he hopes will be a brief assignment in a small Nevada town shortly before getting married to his boss' shallow, pampered daughter. When best friend Michael Richards, a good-hearted but aimless struggling actor, shows up for an impromptu bachelor party, things go awry and Richards begins filling in for a whacked-out-on-pain-pills Daniels. In the hands of competent director Jonathan Lynn (My Cousin Vinny), Trial And Error never sinks below the level of a standard, bland, mildly amusing summer comedy. But it never rises above that, either. Although never believable as lifelong friends, Daniels and Richards (who wisely tones down his Kramer histrionics for the big screen) are appealing stars, Austin Pendleton amuses as a cranky judge, and an underused Rip Torn gets one great scene as the oily defendant. In fact, it's the central message of Trial And Error and its ilk that's grown so wearying: Daniels' character is the latest of thousands forced to choose between his respectable, materialistic lifestyle and his desire to be a free spirit. With the latter embodied by voluptuous Charlize Theron—a barefoot grad-school dropout/waitress who lives in a trailer and really likes astronomy, Walt Whitman, rock 'n' roll music, and spontaneous sex in the middle of the afternoon—the choice, as usual, doesn't seem too difficult.


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