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Review: When In Rome

When In Rome
02.01.2010
5 10

PLOT: Beth has everything a woman could want. She has a brilliant career as a museum curator, and she has a group of loyal friends that stand by her side. But alas, she has lost her faith in love. And after finding out that her ex is engaged to someone else, she finds that love doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. Yet after beginning to develop affections for a man at her sister’s wedding in Rome, she finds him kissing another woman only a few moments after they shared some magic. So in a drunken stupor she decides to kick off her shoes and pick out coins from a magical fountain. Suddenly, a small handful of men who have thrown coins into that particular fountain fall head over heels in love with her. What’s a girl in love to do?

REVIEW: WHEN IN ROME is not a terrible movie. That is not to say it is good, nope, it ain’t that either. But it falls somewhere in between. This is one of those romantic comedies that seem ripe for this time of year, as Valentine’s Day is closing in on us. You’ve heard it all before, Beth, a well to do curator at the world famous Guggenheim museum is enjoying her successful career. It is her night to shine as she has pulled off another exhibit. It’s all champagne and caviar until her ex-boyfriend shows up. He pulls her aside and let’s her know that he finally gets it. He explains that he was a fool for thinking that he could not understand why a woman would put more energy into her career than her romance. And most importantly, he is ready to make the leap. That’s right, he found another girl with a budding career and he had decided to ask her to marry him, thanks to his successful ex that he dumped and is now crapping on just to ruin her night to shine. Uh, first of all, this guy sucks. What person in their right mind would go and thank the one they dumped for realizing it was all good, and they can finally start all over with someone else? Well, apparently this d-bag thought so. By the way, the guy never shows up again.

And so it begins, she gets home and her loving younger sister shows up and lets her know that she is getting married in Rome. AWESOME! You have to wonder if this poor girl was Sarah Marshall in another life and getting her just desserts. Why, it is Sarah Marshall, and Kristen Bell is not the problem here. I’ll get into that later, but let’s just say she is easy to root for. But what isn’t easy to root for is this ridiculously preposterous script. We’ve got a girl taking coins out of a “fountain of love” at her sister’s wedding, each of the coins belonging to a variety of men. And with every coin, Danny DeVito, Dax Sheppard, Will Arnett and Jon Heder all suddenly fall head over heels in love with this beautiful goddess. Luckily, they all happen to live in the same area in New York so they quickly run into Beth and pronounce their love in equally moronic ways. While none of these actors really shine in their poorly written roles, it is Heder who is the weakest link. Even with a cameo from Pedro, Napoleon Dynamite is painfully bad here. At least DeVito had some charisma and wasn‘t a complete annoyance.

Director Mark Steven Johnson may not necessarily be the one to blame for all of this either. While the script feels like a failed Lifetime movie of the week, it still moves at a steady pace and Mr. Johnson is able to occasionally find charm buried inside. Yet you have to wonder about some of the sloppy bits of humor spread throughout. While not every joke fell flat, some of them did feel as though they weren’t quite thought out as they should have been. One scene involving a “dining in the dark” restaurant - a place where you have dinner in complete darkness using all your other senses - was especially claustrophobic and didn’t quite live up to what it could have been. The films two leads seem to walk into nearly everything on set, but of course that means they are meant to be together. Well, this is a by the numbers romantic comedy with a ton of misunderstandings that lead the two father apart. POSSIBLE SPOILER…Of course things will be fine in the end. END SPOILER.

So the big deal here is that the one man Beth does meet at her sister’s wedding, may have also thrown a coin in the fountain. But it is clear that he was all about this girl the second he laid eye’s on her. But one thing that did work crystal clear is the pairing of Kristen Bell and Josh Duhamel. While he towers over her on-screen, even when she is wearing heels, they really shine together. Both are quite talented, good looking and they really have a good comedic timing. When In Rome works when these two are together on a small level, purely on charismatic film presence alone. You would’ve been better off removing the entire story line about the fountain and just focusing on a sweet little romantic comedy without the four idiot suitors that are only attracted to Beth thanks to the magic fountain. At least they didn’t try and explain the magic and just accepted that it was real, I would’ve hated to see the damn statue come to life and cast her love spell.

You won’t be able to avoid movies like this. This won’t be the first and it won’t be the last. Sure the script was weak, and it really didn’t work on most levels, but Bell and Duhamel are really wonderful together. But since there was an occasional laugh, and it even featured an always good performance from Anjelica Huston, I have to say this isn’t as bad as it looks. This is not necessarily a recommendation, but if you happen to really like the two leads, it won’t kill you to see it. But you might want to wait for a bargain matinee or the DVD release. My rating 5/10 -- JimmyO

Source: JoBlo.com

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