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Film review: ‘Imagine’ needs more imagination

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Matthew Goode and Piper Perabo star in "Imagine Me \& You."

Matthew Goode and Piper Perabo star in “Imagine Me \& You.”

Oliver Upton, Fox Searchlight Pictures

IMAGINE ME & YOU — ** — Piper Perabo, Lena Headey, Matthew Goode; rated R (vulgarity, profanity, brief sex, brief drugs).

American actress Piper Perabo (from the "Cheaper by the Dozen" movies) adopts a fairly credible British accent in "Imagine Me & You." Sadly, it's the most convincing thing about the movie.

To say this romantic comedy with strong gay themes is incredibly contrived is putting it mildly. The plot developments seem pretty convenient as well, since they suggest that the decision to live a gay lifestyle is a fairly easy one.

The film also has a distinctly sitcom-like quality and is poorly paced, like an overlong episode of "Will & Grace."

Perabo stars as Rachel, a British twentysomething who's just married her longtime sweetheart and best friend, Heck (Matthew Goode). Rachel has also recently befriended Luce (Lena Headey, from "The Brothers Grimm"), a free-spirited florist who helped arrange their wedding.

To repay Luce, the grateful new couple tries to set her up with Coop (Darren Boyd), Heck's womanizing buddy. But Luce is a lesbian, and she's attracted to Rachel, who is confused by this development and tries to fight her own attraction to Luce.

In the meantime, Heck tries to find out why his new bride has become so withdrawn and innocently goes to Luce to see what he can do to make Rachel happy. From there, things go exactly as you'd expect, which suggests that writer/director Ol Parker wasn't really interested in doing anything new with this material.

Worse, both the female characters are bland, one-dimensional constructs, and neither actress really seems committed to her role.

The male characters are considerably more interesting. Goode's Heck is the most sympathetic of the bunch, while what few meager laughs there are come from Boyd and Anthony Stewart Head (TV's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"), who plays Rachel's boozy father.

"Imagine Me & You" is rated R for crude sexual humor (mostly references and innuendo-laced dialogue), scattered use of strong sexual profanity, some brief sex contact (as well as an overheard pornographic movie), and some brief drug content (mostly references). Running time: 93 minutes.

E-mail: jeff@desnews.com