"Remember Me" is a movie with an urgent message. The message is: Please consider seeing another movie. Up until the very end, when it takes a plot turn so contemptible you feel like spitting at the screen, the picture is a meandering glum-love exercise that never seems to be going anywhere. Its only goal is to make it to that dreadful wrap-up, which it hopes to pass off as tragic irony. It's a movie with no shame, or much of anything else.
Robert Pattinson, broody as usual, plays Tyler Hawkins, an NYU student whose lust for knowledge is so unbounded that he simply audits various courses, undecided about a major. "I'm undecided," he tells fellow student Ally Craig (Emilie de Ravin). "About what?" the script forces her to ask. "Everything," he says, broodingly. Tyler and Ally are united by past sadness. Her mother was murdered before her eyes during a subway assault 10 years earlier (that would be 1991 — keep the math in mind). He had a brother who hanged himself. Now he suffers the glowering disapproval of his father (Pierce Brosnan), a Wall Street titan with a dubious tan, and dotes on his precocious little sister (Ruby Jerins), a private-school moppet who lives with their remarried mother (Lena Olin).
Tyler and Ally have something else in common: her father (Chris Cooper), a veteran cop with whom she resides in blue-collar Queens. After Tyler and his astonishingly obnoxious roommate, Aidan (the grating Tate Ellington), are involved in a street fight, it's Ally's dad who shows up to arrest them. When Aidan makes the connection between father and daughter, he dares Tyler to hit Ally up for a date. You know where this shopworn plot point will lead, but before it does we're treated to some summery Central Park rambling, some brief PG-13 sex that's only marginally hotter than the listless nuzzling in the "Twilight" films, and a pair of Tyler freakout scenes — in his sister's school and his dad's corporate boardroom — that set new standards for awkward staging and general cinematic embarrassment. (This is director Allen Coulter's second film; his first was the 2006 "Hollywoodland.")
Emilie de Ravin is expressive beyond the call of the script (by first-timer Will Fetters), Ruby Jerins is a child actor of rare charm, and Brosnan, Cooper and Olin are of course all pros. Whether Pattinson will ever fully emerge from the cocoon of teen celebrity remains to be seen; this movie isn't the vehicle that would encourage him to do so. As the picture builds — well, slogs along — we can feel the fingers of fate tightening: Tyler carries around a book about Greek mythology; he'll soon turn 22 — the same age his brother was when he died. Finally, the summer of 2001 shades into September, and before long we're asked to accept the deaths of nearly 3,000 people as a backdrop for the cheapest sort of tear-jerking. This deplorably facile device is all that most viewers are likely to remember from the film, and not fondly.
Don't miss Kurt Loder's review of "Green Zone," also new in theaters this week.
Check out everything we've got on "Remember Me."
For breaking news, celebrity columns, humor and more — updated around the clock — visit MTVMoviesBlog.com.