Hilary Swank is a hard one to pin down—she's dazzlingly beautiful as she flounces about in Doris Day splendor; seconds later, she looks like Mr. Ed's cousin. Both attractive and repulsive, Swank's a bit unnerving in P.S. I Love You, this Christmas' chick flick. The same thing could be said about the film: While director Richard LaGravenese's movie isn't bad, per se, he's definitely trying his darnedest to make you both laugh and cry, and he doesn't really succeed at either.

Holly Kennedy (Swank) has lost the love of her life, her husband of nine years, the Irish hottie Gerry (Gerard Butler). But before Gerry's death from a brain tumor, he writes Holly a series of letters that are delivered after his death, encouraging her to find (sigh) inner strength and courage. The letters lead her to face some of her fears (like, um, karaoke?), and eventually teach her to discover her inner artiste (she glues feathers and sparkles on shoes!). As the one-year anniversary of Gerry's death approaches, Holly finally comes to terms with his loss, willing to give love another shot with the doughy Daniel (Harry Connick Jr.).

P.S. I Love You isn't able to pull off its weepy rom-com conceit, mostly because its characters are so weak: Swank has zero chemistry with either Butler or Connick, and if that's not enough, her character comes across as flaky and shrill. Gerry, meanwhile, is a castrated, singing leprechaun, while Daniel is a raving jerk who hits on Holly at her husband's wake. Even the talented supporting cast seems sorely misused: There's a plasticine Gina Gershon, Lisa Kudrow is allowed to lazily do her annoying Phoebe schtick, and Kathy Bates phones it in. P.S. I Love You is a movie full of cardboard cutouts, all of whom desperately try—and fail—to make you laugh through your tears.