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MR. MALCOLM’S LIST: 3 STARS. “diverting but rather predictable movie.”

The petticoats may be more pronounced and the dialogue right out of Jane Austen, but make no mistake, “Mr. Malcolm’s List,” a new romance now playing in theatres, is the kind of rom com that kept Drew Barrymore and Kathryn Heigl busy for years. The only thing missing is the traditional rom com run through the airport and into the arms of the beloved, an omission brought on by time period, not for lack of trying.

Based on a best-selling novel of the same name written by Suzanne Allain, the movie begins with a bad date between London’s most eligible bachelor, Mr. Jeremiah Malcolm (Sope Dirisu) and the eager but dim-witted (“Thinking too deeply causes forehead furrows,” she says.) Julia Thistlewaite (Zawe Ashton). She has her hopes set on a marriage proposal, but he seems more inclined to talk politics, a subject she knows little about.

Despite her best efforts, the night ends with them going their separate ways. The next day, to Julia’s horror, the newspaper carries a caricature of Mr. Malcolm waving her off with a curt, “Next!”

Turns out, Mr. Malcolm has a list of requirements for his potential new bride. Candidates must be able to converse in a sensible fashion, exude an elegance of mind, have a forgiving nature and genteel relations from good society, among other prerequisites. Julia’s sin? Not knowing about the newly enacted Corn Laws and fluttering her eyelashes too much.

Julia is horrified by the publicity. “I would love for Mr. Malcolm to receive the comeuppance he deserves,” she says. To that end she enlists Selina Dalton (Freida Pinto), a country mouse from out of town, gives her a crash course in high society, and sets her off to seduce Malcolm. When he falls for her charms, she will produce a list of her own and he will be “judged and found wanting in front of the whole of good society” just as she was.

You know the rest and if you don’t, you’ve never seen a rom com before. This is a gussied-up Kathryn Heigl movie with high-brow accents and the promise of a ripped bodice or two. Mix in jealousy, trickery, a handsome alternate love interest in the form of Captain Henry Ossory (Theo James) and comedic relief from giggly Mrs. Covington, wonderfully played by Broadway star Ashley Park, and you have a diverting but rather predictable movie.

“Mr. Malcolm’s List” succeeds mostly because an engaging, diverse cast who breathe life and loads of personality into a well-worn genre.

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