Writer-director Alan Rudolph, working from a story written with John Binder, calls this a screwball noir, which suggests both the film’s charm and limitations. It’s an oddball vehicle for Emily Watson, who’s a security cop spouting endless malapropisms while uncovering corruption around a casino. The charm resides in the performances by Watson, Dermot Mulroney, Nick Nolte, Nathan Lane, Brittany Murphy, and Lesley Ann Warren, as well as in the stylish mise en scene, but the characters and plot seem slightly shopwornnoir is used more as formula than as a means of discovery or commentary. (By contrast, Rudolph’s previous feature, Breakfast of Champions, unreleased locally except on video, is one of his best.) Expect something lightweight and you shouldn’t be disappointed. 117 min. (JR)

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