Country Strong (12A)

Starring: Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim McGraw

Gwyneth Paltrow does a distaff version of Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart, playing a Nashville country star who's troubled by drink and age. Garrett Hedlund plays the handsome honky-tonk singer who's her rehab minder and possibly a Kris Kristofferson love object. Completing the triangle is Tim McGraw as Paltrow's controlling husband and manager who's determined to put her on the comeback trail.

The good news is that Paltrow can sing; the bad news is the mawkish and one-paced drama she's playing in. Every crisis arrives on cue, just as every ballad twangingly comments on the tale we're being told. There's a brief whiff of All About Eve in the character of a Beauty Pageant show-pony (Leighton Meester) who's being groomed for stardom, but this proves a false trail. What it's really about is Paltrow's overwhelming neediness ("How talented d'you think I am?") and her inability to get through a scene without bursting into tears.

Just in case we don't understand how sensitive she is, she keeps a broken-winged baby quail as a pet. Ahh... or rather, ugh. Aside from one or two amiable moments of spontaneity, this has about as much dynamism as a plate of refried beans.