Putatively a new romance starring Robert Pattinson, Remember Me begins like a vigilante movie: A Brooklyn subway platform, 1991; a racially charged stickup; an 11-year-old girl watches her mother get shot. It’s the first sign that here is a film that won’t be content just charting the little measures by which two people become able to love—in fact, it’ll barely do that at all.
Flash-forward 10 years, to the halcyon days of the Strokes and whatever other significant events happened in NYC circa 2001. Pattinson is histrionically depressed Tyler Keats Hawkins, a coasting, scruffy NYU student coming up on his 22nd birthday. (Pattinson’s great actorly virtue is that he wears clothes well, so it’s too bad he’s slackered-out in cargo pants here.) Tyler is less revealed than telegraphed through accessories: a dead brother (depth), a pack-a-day habit (angst), a bookstore job (smart), and a rich, aloof, and permanently disappointed daddy (Pierce Brosnan). He shares his disheveled bachelor pad (a mannequin with a sombrero!? You guys!) with Tate Ellington’s Aidan, a cretin with a spinach-chin goatee who delivers the least-likable horny party-guy best-friend performance since the last one.
Meanwhile, that little girl on the subway platform has grown up to be, not Batman, but fellow NYUer Ally (Emilie de Ravin), whose still-bereaved, overprotective cop dad (Chris Cooper, his conviction mostly quarantined from the rest of the narrative) busts Tyler and Aidan one night. Some coincidences later, Tyler will pick up Ally on a revenge-dare, ensuring an eventual variation on the ever-popular teen-movie “Was I a bet?” breakup, after which Tyler’s so bummed he can barely enjoy himself while watching escapist pre-9/11 multiplex fare like American Pie 2.
Before all that, wounded souls Tyler and Ally meet cute with crackling undergrad repartee from screenwriter Will Fetters: “I don’t date sociology majors.” “Lucky for you, I’m undecided.” ” ‘Bout what?” “Everything.” Fetters also has a knack for announcing his own clichés, which is what passes for self-awareness (“Our fingerprints never fade from the lives we touch. . . or is that just poetic bullshit?” “I’ve seen this scene a hundred times. . . .”).
Allen Coulter not only fails to establish Tyler and Ally’s bond, but his insensate direction makes comic relief painful and dramatic crescendos farce. I had to avert my eyes during Aidan’s (unlikely) horrifying monologue about having had a sex partner of every race, while sweaty Pattinson’s barging into Dad’s boardroom to air the family laundry could melt a tough crowd into giggles (“You’re so, just, tragically blind”). For her part, de Ravin, whose research for playing a cop’s daughter from Queens seems to have been limited to locating the borough on a subway map, chews her lower lip expressively and gets some coupling sessions with Pattinson that might seem hot if you currently own an Edward Cullen pencil case.
There’s an insult-to-injury quality to a plain bad movie with a “seize the day” message (Remember Me‘s tagline: “Live in the Moments”), which heckles you with all the other things you should or could be doing while you’re marking time waiting on the credits. And Remember Me is DMV dull, the plot showing so little motion toward a discernable resolution that after a while you wonder if the movie will ever end. Well, it does—oh, mama, does it ever, with a crazy long-bomb heave toward epochal significance. (Far be it from me to spoil the surprise; let’s just say Robert Pattinson dies in 9/11.) In marked contrast to, say, Kristen Stewart’s detail-perfect Adventureland, Pattinson has found a “small, one for me” Twilight-break project that’s more tacky and preposterous than the worst blockbuster phone-in.