Movie-goers who long for the zippy dialogue, smart characterization and delicate restraint of yesteryear’s romantic comedies can find an admirable throwback to the genre in the upcoming “Laws of Attraction.”

“Laws,” starring Pierce Brosnan and Julianne Moore, has divorce lawyers for its main characters, even as those characters work deeply to believe that divorce isn’t the best option for relationships.

“I just loved the irony that they were divorce attorneys and that they should meet across the table in the battleground and the law of love,” Brosnan, who also serves as executive producer, told a group of religious journalists at a recent gathering in Los Angeles.

“I wanted to do a romantic comedy, and I hadn’t done anything of this ilk in a long time,” Brosnan continued. “Bond has taken up center stage for the last nearly eight years.” Brosnan has played James Bond in the last four Bond films: “GoldenEye,” “Tomorrow Never Dies,” “The World Is Not Enough” and “Die Another Day.”

Julianne Moore, who has appeared in several dozen films and garnered four Oscar nominations, has been in a few comedies, but nothing quite like “Laws.”

“I’ve never done a straight-up romantic comedy,” she said. “I really wanted to.” Moore is perhaps best known for her dramatic roles in films like “The Hours” and “Far From Heaven.”

“With drama, all you need is a certain kind of emotional truth,” she said. “But with comedy, you need emotional truth and technique on top of it. I think comedy’s harder.”

With the script by Aline Brosh McKenna and Robert Harling, the latter of whom wrote “Steel Magnolias,” Moore was hooked.

“I was really excited by the script and interested,” she said. “It’s a really lovely, sweet, very old-fashioned kind of movie.”

Director Peter Howitt, whose previous films include “Sliding Doors” and “Johnny English,” said some people are comparing “Laws” to the 1949 film “Adam’s Rib,” starring Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn.

“I know this film has a similarity to ‘Adam’s Rib’ apparently, but truthfully and honestly I’ve never seen ‘Adam’s Rib.’ I just had never seen it,” he told journalists. “When I was told this film had a similar tone to it, I purposefully didn’t watch it. I didn’t purposefully try to make a film that was a throwback to that film.”

“If it has got that kind of feel to it, then I guess that’s the nature of the material and the fact that these are more mature leading people in a romantic comedy than you normally get these days,” Howitt said. “In most romantic comedies the protagonists are 12.”

Moore echoed that sentiment.

“While I can appreciate a romantic comedy that involves young people—teenagers or people in their early 20s—I always think secretly, ‘What are they worried about? I don’t want them to get married. They’re 18! They shouldn’t get together! They should go to separate colleges and that’s fine!'”

Moore and Brosnan’s characters are indeed mature, but that’s not to say that the film is raunchy. It received a PG-13 rating from Motion Picture Association of America for “sexual content and language.” Both elements are relatively tame as the filmmakers opted for the less-is-more approach.

“This is a very human movie,” Moore said. “People aren’t mean to each other in this movie. Everybody is just trying to get through stuff, to figure it out. It’s very positive. It was the kind of stuff that you used to see in old movies that you don’t see anymore.”

Cliff Vaughn is culture editor for

Our review of “Laws of Attraction” will appear Friday, April 30.

The movie’s Web site is here.

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