How, I ask, can a musical adaptation based on Fellini's masterful 8 1/2, directed by the man behind the big-screen Chicago and boasting an enviable, Oscar-bait cast possibly be dull? It seems inconceivable, but Rob Marshall's Nine is just that.

How, I ask, can a musical adaptation based on Fellini's masterful 8 1/2, directed by the man behind the big-screen Chicago and boasting an enviable, Oscar-bait cast possibly be dull? It seems inconceivable, but Rob Marshall's Nine is just that.

Famed Italian film director Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis) finds himself in crisis, crippled by writer's block on the eve of his latest film. Rattling through his head are thoughts of the many women of his life - his wife (Marion Cotillard), mistress (Penelope Cruz), mother (Sophia Loren), muse (Nicole Kidman) and more.

Chicago - still my favorite in the resurgence of movie musicals - showed Marshall is more at home with Bob Fosse than Federico Fellini, and his attempt here to run through a Film 101 of cinematic styles is obnoxious. (He'd still be my top pick for a remake of All That Jazz, though.)

The most redeeming moments come from that great cast. Day-Lewis is outstanding on the acting front. Singing, not so much. Cruz's sultry mistress injects some needed humor, and Cotillard's long-suffering wife impossibly manages to steal scenes from Day-Lewis.

But low points are plenty low, including Fergie (yes, that Fergie) laying on a thick Italian accent, and a Kate Hudson musical number I'm hoping can be scrubbed from my memory through psychotherapy.

Basically, it's a hot mess. Somehow, the bursts of great acting combined with the trainwreck song-and-dance elements manages to add up to boredom. Don't ask me how that happened.