Just because a movie begins with a marriage proposal made over a toilet doesn't guarantee it'll be a rollicking ride. So it is with "Andover," an ill-conceived "sci-fi comedy" whose stab at funny begins and ends on said commode. Otherwise, it's a sluggish and morose look at grief, obsession and super-fishy ethics.
A workable tone eludes writer-director Scott Perlman as he spins the eccentric tale of Adam (Jonathan Silverman), a genetics professor and cloning researcher at fictional Andover University, and his glassblower wife, Dawn (Silverman's real-life spouse, Jennifer Finnigan), whose newly wedded bliss shatters when Dawn is killed in a fiery accident. But, y'know, never say die.
Adam, unable to live without Dawn, decides to clone his beloved back into existence, with the reluctant help of his besotted lab assistant, Emma (Scout Taylor-Compton). There's a steep learning curve, however, involving premature aging and an unexpected battle between nature and nurture.
It takes a series of deeply questionable and frankly creepy replication efforts — and cavalier cadaver disposals — as well as repeated re-enactments of Dawn's key life events (her parents, played by Beth Grant and Richard Kind, factor in) to reproduce a recognizable Dawn for Adam to love again.
But this choppy film, which is saddled with a subplot about a dogged insurance agent (Richard Portnow), becomes more mechanical than emotional, leapfrogging time, logic and process as it scrambles to its too clever-by-half conclusion.
Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes
Playing: AMC Sunset 5, West Hollywood