November 20, 2006 12:00 PM

Russell Crowe, Albert Finney, Marion Cotillard, Abbie Cornish

COMEDY

Some soufflés fail to rise, no matter how superior the ingredients or how thoroughly you beat the eggs. That’s the case with this clichéd comedy, based on a novel by Peter Mayle, about a hard-charging, obnoxious London trader (Crowe) who learns to slow down and smell the lavender upon inheriting a run-down villa and vineyard in Provence. Directed by Ridley Scott (with whom Crowe collaborated on 2000’s Gladiator), A Good Year plays like a movie where everyone involved had a better time making it—the food! the wine! the scenic locations!—than you are having sitting there watching it. There’s nothing wrong with Year, just nothing particularly fresh or special. Crowe, attempting to make like Cary Grant, is only fair at serving up savoir faire. Finney, as a lovable uncle, brings welcome gusto to his scenes. (PG-13)

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