Two Jews on Film - By Joan Alperin Schwartz: An international traveler reaches into the snack bowl at an airport bar before passing her credit card to a waiter.  A business meeting begins with a round of handshakes.  A man coughs on a crowded bus.

One contact.  One instant. And a lethal virus is transmitted.

Great premise. Great beginning. But unfortunately, that's not enough to make a great film.

'Contagion' directed by Steven Soderbergh and written by Scott Z Burns (The Informant) succeeds in showing us how fast a virus can spread.  It also makes you think that becoming an agoraphobic isn't such a bad idea. 

Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) returns to Minneapolis from a business trip in Hong Kong.  Two days later, she's dead in the ER and the doctors tell her shocked and grieving husband (Matt Damon) that they have no idea why.

Soon other people start to exhibit the same mysterious symptoms:  hacking coughs and fever, followed by seizures, brain hemorrhage (ouch) and ultimately...death.  Not a pretty way to go.

Quickly this nasty little virus spreads...Chicago, London, Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong, China, and Los Angeles.  The number of cases quickly case becomes four, then sixteen, then hundreds, thousands, and finally millions.

A global pandemic explodes.  Okay, sounds exciting, right? Not so much.

It doesn't take long for 'Contagion' to get bogged down in scientific mumbo jumbo, government conspiracy theories...thanks to blogger Jude Law, and the obligatory B story line of Matt Damon finding out his dead wife cheated on him and his daughter pissed off that she can't lock lips with her dorky boyfriend.

I love pandemic movies and I was really expecting to love this one.  Unfortunately, I found my mind wandering... Thinking about Kate Winslet's excellent 'American' accent.  Miss Winslet plays Dr. Erin Mears, a CDC employee sent out into the field by her colleague Dr. Cheever (Laurence Fishburne) to try and stop the virus from spreading.  Fat chance of that happening.

The rest of the cast, including Marion Cotillard (Dr. Leonora Orantes) isn't really given a lot to do...except to look concerned and then to look very, very concerned, as the death count rises.

John and I actually come pretty close in our bagel rating.  Check out our video to see how many bagels we gave 'Contagion'.

The film opens in theaters Friday September 9, 2011.