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Duets ★★ 2000 (R)

Bruce Paltrow misuses the talents of his fine ensemble cast (including daughter Gwyneth) in this off-key comedy-melodrama about karaoke culture. The three subplots each center on a pair of misfits en route to a karaoke contest in Omaha. Ricky (Lewis) is a karaoke hustler who meets his daughter Liv (Pal-trow) for the first time after the death of her mother in Las Vegas. Suzi (Bello) is a steely waitress who bullies and beguiles mild cab driver Billy (Speedman) into taking her halfway across the country with the promise of sex. Todd's (Giamatti) a freaked-out businessman fleeing his family and Reggie's (Braugher) a deep-thinking escaped convict with a killer voice. Flashes of feeling and humor offset some of the hokiness of the characters, but not enough to save the movie. 112m/C VHS, DVD . Gwyneth Paltrow, Maria Bello, Scott Speed-man, Andre Braugher, Paul Giamatti, Huey Lewis, Marian Seldes, Kiersten Warren, Angie Phillips, Angie Dickinson; D: Bruce Paltrow; W: John By-rum; C: Paul Sarossy; M: David Newman.