Picks and Pans Review: Bet Me

updated 03/29/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/29/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

By Jennifer Cruise

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A bet about sex seems like a bad way to start a relationship, but in her romantic romp, Cruise tries to skew the odds in favor of love. In the end, though, the story is as thrilling as a slot machine that never hits.

The match-up of Minerva Dobbs, a straitlaced actuary, and Calvin Morrisey, a serial heartbreaker, kicks off with a dare between her callow ex-boyfriend David Fisk and the suave leading man: Ten grand says Cal can't bed Min within a month. Min learns of the pact and, employing her risk-assessment techniques, decides to outsmart the men. In the process, she and Cal get broadsided by Cupid. Fumbling sex scenes, thin characters (such as a nagging, diet-obsessed mother) and some overly dramatic scenes veer on cliché. The dueling couple occasionally trade Hepburn-and-Tracy banter. Too bad the smart talk so often melts into dewy-eyed cooing.

ROMANCE

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