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This Week at the Movies

'The Words' is an occasionally intriguing mixed bag, but 'Bachelorette' is a bitter pill.

Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal's "The Words" is one-third of a good movie. Although it does not completely add up, it's not without its merits.

The picture is a multiple character story split into three parts that tells the tale of struggling author Rory Jansen (Bradley Cooper), who discovers an anonymous literary masterpiece tucked into a tote bag in a thrift shop and decides to publish the work under his name. Accolades follow.

But we find out that this story is a section of a novel by acclaimed author Clay Hammond (Dennis Quaid), who is taking part in a reading in front of an audience.

In the story within the story, Jansen is confronted by a feeble elderly man (Jeremy Irons), who claims the long-lost manuscript as his own. He tells Jansen of how he came to write the novel after serving in France during World War II, where he met a young woman and a tragic love affair ensued.

The best sequences in the film belong to scene stealer Irons as he narrates his story to Cooper and the accompanying flashbacks, which carry enough weight to move the picture along.

It's when we're faced with Jansen's conundrum and Hammond's story that the film wobbles. There are some twists and turns in the story that I'm not sure completely hold up under close scrutiny.

In fact, Hammond's story could have been dropped altogether and the film might have been the better for it. As it stands, "The Words" is only intermittently compelling.

"Bachelorette" is even less focused. The film stars Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan and Isla Fisher as three bitter friends who reunite 13 years after their high school graduation to act as bridesmaids for Becky (Rebel Wilson, of "Bridesmaids"), who is getting married.

Becky, who was known as "Pig Face" in high school, is slightly overweight and her husband is wealthy, good looking Dale (Hayes MacArthur), whom Regan (Dunst), Gena (Caplan) and Katie (Fisher) believe is too good for their pal.

"Bachelorette" is another in a recent series of comedies that appear to set out to prove that women can be just as crude as the men in "The Hangover" and its ilk.

But "Bridesmaids" this is not. While that film's outrageous antics were coupled with genuine sweetness and some flawed, but ultimately lovable, characters, "Bachelorette" is acidic and its trio petty and shallow.

The couplings between the three bridesmaids and the groomsmen (Adam Scott, James Marsden and Kyle Bornheimer) come off as obligatory and most of the film's attempts at humor leave a bitter taste in the mouth.

And while "Bridesmaids" explored female friendship and Kristen Wiig's character's romantic travails, "Bachelorette" fails to provide a raison d'être. None of its leads have become better people - or even interesting characters - during the course of its acerbic 90 minutes. The cast is made up of talented people who deserve better.

"The Words" is playing at Midway Theater on Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills. "Bachelorette" is screening at AMC Loews Roosevelt Field 8 in Garden City.

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