It may be set in Newfoundland, but The Grand Seduction is pure blarney. It even features Irishman Brendan Gleeson in the lead role of an acting mayor who pulls off the biggest ruse since the Greeks entered Troy. And to carry that Celtic theme even further, the movie is a complete ripoff of the Emerald Isle-set Waking Ned Devine. But instead of trying to fool a lottery administrator, the residents of an idyllic seaside town are out to hoodwink a New York plastic surgeon.
Its as dull and predictable as it sounds, possibly a wee bit more. The script (based on an 11-year-old French-Canadian offering titled Seducing Doctor Lewis) leaves no cliche untouched, as it sends any semblance of plausibility packing. Worse, director Don McKellar (The Last Night) confuses hokum for charm almost as often as he mistakes stupidity for cleverness. Its meant to tug at the heart, but merely sets the eyes rolling.
At least Gleeson (Harry Potter, Edge of Tomorrow) is good. But when isnt he? Still, hes never been this severely challenged, leading one to wonder how good he might have been with a script more literate than the tripe Mike Dowse dishes out in depicting how 119 of the 120 residents of tiny Tickle Head conspire to lure a doctor any doctor to set up permanent residence. And the desperate townsfolk will do anything to keep him including pretending to like cricket, sushi and cocaine in order to keep him. Its all part of a plan to fulfill the final prerequisite for landing a factory sure to revitalize a welfare-dependent fishing village thats been on the skids ever since the cod dried up. Heck, even the mayor makes like Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin and ducks out before his term is up. At least his honor, now a TSA agent, is nice enough to reroute a potential sap the towns way via blackmail after he catches Taylor Kitschs Dr. Paul Lewis in possession of a vial of cocaine.
The agreement is for the cricket-loving, hot-shot plastic surgeon to stay a month. But what the doc doesnt realize is that everyone but the towns lovely, overtly honest postmistress (Liane Balaban) is in on a subterfuge in which the residents have 30 days to trick him into believing Ticklehead is his personal paradise. The problem with this scenario besides the fact that its been done about a half-dozen times since 1991s Doc Hollywood is that theres never any doubt the plan will succeed, simply because Dr. Lewis is the most gullible dupe in creation.
Whats different about this version is its high-level creep factor, as the town impersonates the NSA by tapping the docs phone and noting his every like and dislike, including his favorite forms of fornication, gleaned while listening to him having phone sex with his New York girlfriend. If that wasnt bad enough, Gleesons Murray French pretends he wants to become the father the doctor never had. Or, at least he does whenever hes not lying about the standoffish postmistress secretly having the hots for the doc. Such stratagems arent funny, theyre sleazy, and the film ultimately pays for it with a total lack of appeal.
The performances, especially by Gleeson, Kitsch (warmer than hes ever been) and grizzled Gordon Pinsent as Murrays chief partner in crime, are light and airy enough to keep you watching, but all the lies and deceptions eventually become a major turnoff. The doc may stay 30 days, but the filmmakers will be lucky if you stick around two hours submitting to a Seduction thats anything but grand.

THE GRAND SEDUCTION (PG-13 for some suggestive material and drug references.) Cast includes Brendan Gleeson, Tayor Kitsch, Gordon Pinsent and Liane Balaban. Directed by Don McKellar. At Kendall Square, Cambridge. Grade: C-