British artist Colin arrives in America heartbroken after receiving an invitation to Vera's wedding - the woman he thought was his fiance. Local nurse Mandy tries to dry his tears, and soon they fall for each other. But Vera's sudden arrival puts a spanner in the works.
This is one of those films where you're mentally recasting throughout - Hugh Grant, obviously, then perhaps Cameron Diaz, and Catherine Zeta-Jones... but the actors shouldn't shoulder the whole blame for this rather mediocre effort.
Early scenes with Firth as a deadpan depressive arriving in a small town, Hope Springs, are full of comic promise. It's with the appearance of Graham that things start to get shakier. Despite the potential humour in certain scenarios - like her naturist turn in the repressed Englishman's hotel - both her character and the love match fail to ring true.
Bring in Minnie Driver as a manipulative, chain-smoking embodiment of materialism, and the supposed plot tension crumbles. It's perfectly clear that Colin shouldn't be with Vera, but this point seems to have eluded the writers as they struggle to convince us that there's a crucial competition for his affections at play.
Early laughs give way to bland romance and an uninvolving love triangle plot device. As Mandy says to Colin at one point, "It was funny at first, now it's just irritating."