Los Angeles Times

'Lies & Alibis'

Special to The Times

"Lies & Alibis" isn't as jaunty as its title and dilutes a serviceable premise for a mild diversion that just lapses into confusion.

Directors Matt Checkowski and Kurt Mattila and writers Noah Hawley and Collin Friesen work up more complications than they and their ensemble cast, boasting a surprisingly large number of name players, can handle.

Steve Coogan stars as a polished, cynical risk management specialist, his area of expertise being the providing of alibis for cheating wives and husbands who can afford his services. Coogan's Ray has established a thriving business and hires Lola (the stunning Rebecca Romijn) as his poised and shrewd new assistant. James Brolin, playing an indefatigably philandering tycoon, Ray's best client, has just asked Ray to cover for his spoiled, petulant son, Wendell (James Marsden), who's planning a hot fling with Heather (Jaime King) in Santa Barbara before he settles down to marriage. Heather, however, is so deep into kinky sex that Wendell inadvertently ends up strangling her.

Ray ends up in big trouble, but Lola proves so coolly resourceful in coming to his aid one cannot but wonder what's in it for her. In the meantime, he has to fend off a revenge-minded character played by John Leguizamo, a professional assassin (Sam Elliott), the assassin's unfaithful wife (Selma Blair), the assassin's key henchman (Henry Rollins — yes, that Henry Rollins) and a police detective (Debi Mazar), among others. Most of the actors — among them Deborah Kara Unger, who is asked only to seem enigmatic — do well enough to make one wish that "Lies & Alibis" had sufficient clarity to achieve the level of the pleasantly routine. As it is, Brolin and Elliott supply considerable humor to a picture in constant need of more vitality.

MPAA rating: R for language and sexual content. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes. At the Regent Showcase, 614 N. La Brea Ave., L.A., (323) 934-2944.

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