Rom-com ‘Then Came You’ charms, then wilts; Inspiring doco ‘Girls Can’t Surf’ smashes surf-world sexism; Sci-fi blamfest ‘Cosmic Sin’ doesn’t cut it

Rom-com couple: Craig Ferguson and Kathie Lee Gifford make a charming couple in ‘Then Came You’.

THEN CAME YOU **1/2 (98 minutes) M
An otherwise off-the-shelf rom-com is lifted a few notches above its rightful station in the movie universe by comedian/actor/former host of The Late Late Show Craig Ferguson, whose snappy one-liners, improv gags and witty banter with Kathie Lee Gifford (former co-host of Live with Regis and Kathie Lee) keep things humming nicely for about two-thirds of the piece before matters simply become way too predictable and the thing overstays its welcome.

Gifford, who also wrote the screenplay, plays Annabelle, a freshly widowed American who plans to travel to her favourite movie-inspired destinations, which takes her to a financially troubled Scottish inn run by Howard. He’s a minor Lord and major business failure on the verge of marrying Clare (Elizabeth Hurley), a beautiful, rich socialite whose money can save the inn.

As Howard entertains Annabelle with his cooking and little trips into the local village, they inevitably draw closer to each other. They joke about in a manner that is clearly a substitute for foreplay, though Howard can’t act on it because of his upcoming nuptial.

Enter Clare and – splat – what has been bubbling away quite pleasantly as a cheeky variation on the rom-com formula suddenly becomes rote and you can’t wait for the film to end.

Unfortunately, Clare is a very under-cooked character and it’s a surprise she doesn’t form a much bigger part of the film’s romantic triangle, especially given how good an actress she has proven herself to be in films such as Bedazzled and Serving Sara, and in red-carpet appearances with Hugh Grant, post-Divine Brown.

Still, not a bad little number, with Gifford and Ferguson sharing some fizzy on-screen chemistry the likes of which we don’t often see, especially with actors of such vintage. The film is also the latest to chime in with the dateless message that getting old can mean new beginnings and romantic renewal.

GIRLS CAN’T SURF *** (108 minutes) M
An impressive, inspiring documentary that walks us through the male-dominated surfing world of the 1980s and how it was infiltrated and changed by a disparate gaggle of strong-willed female surfers armed with determination, talent and almost no sponsorship money.

Colourful archival footage and images accompany contemporary interviews with key surfing figures and commentators to chronicle what a haven for bogans the old surfing world was, yet how no degree of archaic sexism could shut out women who clearly knew their stuff and were able to demonstrate their skills, even when given tiny waves to ride during slow days at a big surfing meet.

The film is an easy sell to devotees of surf culture but also packs strong appeal for anyone eager to see what a shifting paradigm looks like on film, because director Christopher Nelius (Storm Surfers 3D) smashes it.

COSMIC SIN *1/2 (88 minutes) M
A sleepwalking Bruce Willis heads the bill in a pretty dire shoot-’em-up sci-fi lark set in the far future where humans make their first encounter with aliens from across the universe.

And there’s nothing much special about these guys either. Like so many of their movie antecedents, they want nothing more than to wage war with anything they come into contact with and to shoot anything that moves.

Luckily, the humans have Willis playing a disgraced, reinstated army general who also likes to shoot anything that moves, Frank Grillo as a soldier who enjoys shooting anything that moves, and a device called a Q-Bomb that can destroy the alien ships and shut the mouth of the space/time tunnel they came through.

There’s not much to recommend here; not even the visual effects are much chop in a slapdash serving of sci-fi mulch.