Directed by Paul Weitz, starring Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace, Scarlett Johansson, David Paymer, Marg Helgenberger, Clark Gregg and Philip Baker Hall.

Dan Foreman (Quaid) has spent over 20 years working at the magazine Sports America, rising to head of ad sales and now reaching a crossroads in his life. Several of them. He's 51, his wife Ann is pregnant, his daughter Alex (Johansson) is moving out to college, he needs a second mortgage and Sports America's parent company has just been bought out.

Enter Carter Duryea (Grace) - Dan's new boss. He's 26, his marriage is on the skids, he's way out of his depth and he needs to get the revenues up or get the staff down, preferably both. What could come between these men other than attitude, experience and personality? Try Alex.

Writer-director Paul Weitz and his brother Chris showed they could do grown-up as well as juvenile when they followed 'American Pie' with their adaptation of Nick Hornby's 'About a Boy', a film that turned out to be more entertaining than the book. Now Paul Weitz has decided to tackle the surrogate father-son dynamic American-style, in a film that doesn't try to play it totally for laughs but doesn't tug hard enough on the heartstrings either.

The main problem is that Weitz's script is sometimes a little too flat and gentle for the talent he has at his disposal. The plot is so well sign posted that there's no danger of any character getting too lost along the way and with singer-songwriters doused all over the soundtrack, you're never left in any doubt about what you should be feeling at any particular time. There's no song called 'Mildly Entertained, But a Little Bored', if there was you'd be able to hum it by the end.

Far worse has been made in the name of box office, but far more memorable too.

Harry Guerin