Shortcut to Happiness

Miscasting and a tired plot make this Alec Baldwin-directed feature a tired exercise in pointlessness.

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A struggling writer sees a friend and fellow scribe achieve the success he's always wanted and is driven mad with envy. In a fit of desperation, the writer tosses a typewriter out of the window, killing an elderly woman and contributing to a debilitating run of bad luck. The devil shows up (in a red trenchcoat and heels) and asks the writer how he feels about selling his soul in exchange for the literary and financial success he's always wanted. Sound familiar? Shortcut to Happiness uses this tired, unoriginal theme and takes the plot no further than what is most predictable. Alec Baldwin directs and stars - not fully convincingly - as the nice guy Jabez Stone, the struggling writer. Whether you associate Baldwin with 30 Rock's Jack Donaghy or as he is portrayed in tabloid and gossip magazine stories about his "real life", he just can't quite pull off the quiet, earnest, unlucky character. Equally ill cast is Jennifer Love Hewitt as the devil. More obnoxious than cunning or clever, Hewitt can try as she might to sound evil, but will always be undone by the bratty teenage girl in her voice and her slightly-too-naive-to-be-sexy demeanour.