Sunday, February 2, 2014

When in Rome (2010) [PG-13] **+

Beth (Kristen Bell) is an art curator at New York City's Guggenheim Museum, trying to please her demanding boss (Anjelica Huston). Beth has spent years believing love would come along, but now, after being disappointed repeatedly, she's grown sad and disillusioned. Then, her impulsive, romantic younger sister Joan (Alexis Dziena) announces that she's just accepted a marriage proposal from an Italian hunk she met on a flight two weeks earlier, and she wants Beth to be maid of honor at her wedding in Rome. 

During the wedding events Beth meets Nick (Josh Duhamel), who's the best man. Nick is a tall, good-looking, ex-football player who was the groom's college roommate. Naturally, Beth and Nick fall for each other, but when Beth sees a drunken Italian beauty drape herself around Nick, she's consumed by jealousy. Drunk on champagne, she wades into the supposedly-magical Fountain of Love and, cynically, plucks five recently-tossed coins from the fountain and puts them in her purse. Unfortunately, the fountain's magic has transformed the coins, and, after returning to New York, Beth finds herself pursued by the four men who had originally cast the coins into the fountain, and who are now under a magic spell and in love with Beth. This strange group of suitors includes a street magician, an artist, a self-absorbed male model and a sausage millionaire. And while Nick tries to convince Beth that his love for her is real, she believes the fifth coin, a casino token, belongs to Nick, which means he's under the same magic spell.

Co-written by the writing team of David Diamond and David Weissman (The Family Man, Old Dogs), this featherweight romantic comedy features attractive leads, lovely costumes and sets, and pretty shooting locations in New York and Rome, but not much more. The screenplay is derivative, predictable, and an insult to the viewer's intelligence, with none of the brilliance and cleverness found in The Family Man. The physical comedy borders on the slapstick, and the quartet of love-struck men stalking Beth is embarrassing, and more than a little creepy, rather than being charming. Worse, there's no character development of Bell and Duhamel's characters, and precious little romantic chemistry between them, so we're at a loss to explain the attraction between them. In the end we're left with a completely unsatisfying story and the feeling we've wasted 90 minutes of our lives. Unless you were charmed by The Proposal with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds, an equally trivial romantic comedy, I would stay far away from this one. 

Labels: comedy, romance    
Internet Movie Database    
Metacritic 25/100    
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=34, viewers=60)    

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