Sexy 2 way chat rooms

* (out of four) Stars: Halle Berry, Bruce Willis, Giovanni Ribisi Director: James Foley Distributor: Revolution Studios Rating: R for sexual content, nudity, some disturbing violent images and language Running time: 1 hour, 49 minutes Opens Friday nationwide Yes, there's a grisly murder and a plot twist, but what's most shocking is how Halle Berry, an Oscar-winning actress, could have read the script and agreed to star in such a dubious enterprise. One would expect her to be ultra-picky after the drubbing she took as the lead in that laughable superhero clunker.Maybe it was the allure of starring with Bruce Willis and Giovanni Ribisi.

Instead, it's a spin on a conventional genre: a chat-room thriller with racy computerese patter. It's a ridiculous script, but not unintentionally funny enough to inspire us to LOL.

The film tries to be timely with a red-herring subplot about a married senator who is caught in a homosexual affair with his intern, despite his anti-gay-rights stance. Berry plays Rowena Price, an investigative reporter who inexplicably goes by a male pseudonym when writing for a New York newspaper.

She pretends to be from a family-rights organization when she confronts the senator with incriminating photos, clearly having not consulted the journalistic ethics handbook.

She is soon embroiled in probing the mysterious death of a childhood friend, which implicates a powerful ad exec, Harrison Hill (Willis as a by-the-book womanizer).

With the help of Miles, a sardonic colleague (Ribisi), she goes undercover as a temp at Hill's ad agency, flirting with him both in person and in online chat rooms.

Filmmakers need to realize that the prolonged sight of actors typing into a computer and reading e-mail is simply not interesting.

It never fails to bog the action down and insult the audience by implying we are all illiterate boobs.

And speaking of annoying trends, Perfect Stranger may have the most glaring product placement sequences of any recent movie.

If movies had to adhere to a truth-in-advertising dictum, the title might more accurately be Perfect Stranger: As Underwritten by Victoria's Secret and Reebok.

The performances are unconvincing and the script trite.

Rowena dismisses her editor's squelching the story of the senator's misconduct with "Typical: Powerful men protecting powerful men." Superficial and lurid, Perfect Stranger is the cinematic equivalent of spam and should, like those trashy messages, be avoided.

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