Thanks to “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and this Lifetime adaptation of Jane Porter’s book, the Hawaiian tourism bureau should consider a new campaign: Come to the islands and rebound from your painful breakup by trysting the night away with one of our attractive and helpfully pliant hotel personnel. “Flirting w/ Forty” is really just “How Jackie Got Her Groove Back,” but it’s a frothy girls night in of the “I am cougar: Hear me purr” variety — one that should seduce a femme audience hungry for white-sand beaches and well-toned abs.
The aforementioned Jackie (Heather Locklear) is recently divorced, has two young kids and is about to turn 40 (the actress actually hit that milestone a few years ago, and from a contemporary, kudos). So her pal Kristine (Locklear’s “Melrose Place” co-star Vanessa Williams) talks her into a trip to Hawaii, where Jackie promptly meets a twentysomething surf instructor named Kyle (Robert Buckley, also an older woman’s boy toy on NBC’s “Lipstick Jungle”).
After a little of the requisite awkward banter and lingering stares, it’s time to get lei’ed, followed by one of those whirlwind vacation romances. At first, Kristine is supportive (“The only way to get over a man is to get under another,” she says, in the movie’s best line), but once Jackie starts spending every free moment jetting back to Oahu — indicating this is a relationship, and not merely a fling — the attachment becomes a sore point with her grumpy ex, petulant children and concerned (if slightly jealous) friends.
Although Jackie obsesses about the age gap, writer Julia Dahl’s adaptation rather sparingly explores this successful businesswoman’s misgivings about the status differential with Kyle, who is so determined to remain footloose on the beach that he isn’t pursuing a potentially lucrative product-marketing opportunity. Yet that’s probably just as well, since director Mikael Salomon seems to recognize that the real draw is simply watching Locklear and Buckley cavorting, whether between the sheets or in the waves.
Granted, one could easily wish there was a single original note here or one flourish that isn’t pretty well telegraphed — or that Kyle’s character wasn’t so thin, as if this young demigod sprang out of the water fully formed when Jackie arrived at the resort.
Then again, that’s a lot to expect from this sort of low-calorie snack, which does offer some nice female camaraderie to augment its romantic fantasy. Besides, why bother flirting with depth when the accommodations are strictly in the no-frills, wham, bam, tune-in-ma’am category.