(2003)2Derek ArmstrongAlex & Emma is about a novel written under duress in 30 days, which is appropriate, since the film's producers seem to be operating under the same time frame -- perhaps even the same threats of death. Everything about the film feels hasty, from the poor lighting to the numerous takes that scream, "Eh, that's good enough." Not quite a North-sized disaster for its director, Rob Reiner, the film is nonetheless a major catastrophe, utterly implausible from its first cheeky minutes. Improbably, Kate Hudson's by-the-book legal secretary quits her job to pursue nebulous compensation from the man who's just tried to con her, which he'll only provide if he avoids getting whacked long enough to accomplish an impossible feat. All because gangsters have destroyed his laptop, which he didn't need anyway, because he's just as comfortable dictating his writings aloud -- a practice which, if ever popular, went out well before the delete button became as much a writer's crutch as booze and cigarettes. Then again, if Luke Wilson's character just hit one of those free computers at the library, there would be no movie. The viewer's only reward, having choked down this premise, is a dullsville parallel romance between the bickering modern couple and the characters from his novel, who are like Great Gatsby extras with nowhere to go and nothing to say. Reiner didn't deserve the potshots he took for the underrated The Story of Us (1999), but his follow-up is the kind of film that leaves enough of a stench for two flops.