THIS bittersweet comedy of suburban malaise examines the fallout of a May-December romance between members of two neighbouring families in a leafy New Jersey community.
American Beauty traversed some of the same territory with sharper wit and style but this delivers a few riotous interludes.
It boasts a smattering of delicious one-liners and solid performances but we’ve witnessed these tribulations countless times before.
David Walling (Hugh Laurie) and wife Paige (Catherine Keener) live on Orange Drive in New Jersey opposite best friends Terry and Cathy Ostroff (Oliver Platt, Allison Janney).
There is emotional baggage between David and Paige’s son Toby (Adam Brody) and daughter Vanessa (Alia Shawkat) and Terry and Cathy’s daughter Nina (Leighton Meester).
Tranquillity is shattered by the return of Nina following a break-up from her fiance and Cathy is delighted, having strongly opposed the nuptials, believing her daughter would be a perfect match for Toby.
Unexpectedly, Nina sparks an affair with David, which is eventually exposed.
The film rests heavily on the shoulders of the cast and they confidently flesh out the feuding clans.
Having wrought emotional devastation at the end of the first hour, the screenwriters feel an urge to repair as much damage as possible by the end credits, which strains credibility.
Some wounds are too deep to salve with tears and platitudes.