When in Rome
in Rome, you should make a better movie than this.
Okay, that’s a bit of a cheap shot, I know. It’s not even 100% fair,
When in Rome is not an actively awful movie. It is more an actively
mediocre film. It really can’t be bothered to be better than it absolutely
has to be.
After all, you film a movie in one of the most beautiful, romantic cities in
the world (two, actually, more of this film takes place in New York than in
Rome), two drop dead gorgeous leads, the ability to film on location in one
of the great art museums in the world and supporting turns by four
highly-respected comic minds (though, honestly, two are infinitely more
talented than the other two), you expect more than small car jokes, beer
jokes, fart jokes, getting struck by lightning, a restaurant with no lights
and at least four scenes when a main character walks headfirst into a pole
or an open basement door.
a little work, When in Rome could have been a perfectly serviceable
(if not great) romantic comedy along the lines of the mostly forgotten 90s
Marisa Tomei/ Robert Downey, Jr. rom-com Only You – which, I think,
is the type of highly romantic and just vaguely supernatural romantic comedy
based in Italy that When in Rome is aspiring to become.
Instead it is like that movie, but without the brains and the heart.
Which is a shame, because you have an attractive lead couple, one we would
like to root for, if the film was not so aggressively dumb.
clever (well clever-ish) concept is also wasted here. Beth Harper (Kristen
Bell) is a beautiful executive from the Guggenheim Museum. She has given up
on love, because her former boyfriend has finally found the courage to get
engaged, to someone else, and her younger sister just got married after just
two weeks of knowing her gorgeous Italian soon-to-be husband. Not only
that, the cute best man (Josh Duhamel) she thought she had a moment with
turns out to be with a sultry Italian beauty.
famous Fountain of Love in Rome, she drunkenly takes five coins. According
to legend, taking a coin from the fountain will get the person who threw it
in to fall in love with you.
Interestingly, in just one of many noticeable cheats in the script as soon
as she picks up the coins (well four coins and one poker chip) we see the
men being struck by the love spell – but one is not shown. So, right away,
the audience knows that chances are good that the guy who threw it into the
fountain will not be who it appears to be.
Soon, Beth is being bombarded by the guys who all flew to New York to win
her love. They are a series of embarrassing types – a fat middle-aged
sausage magnate (Danny DeVito), a talentless and annoying magician (Jon
Heder), a crazed Italian painter (Will Arnett) and a dim, vain model (Dax
Shepard). Then there is the hot best man, but does he love her because of
her or the spell?
all know the answer to that question. More to the point, why does it even
really matter? True love is true love whether it was earned through a spell
or not. If he doesn’t know it’s a spell, what’s the harm?
However, this quandary leads Bell on a series of bad slapstick scenes – none
of which are the least realistic, nor do they really make any sense to the
a shame, because like I said, the two leads are likeable presences. Both
have made their way from television (her Veronica Mars and Heroes,
him Las Vegas) to supporting roles in popular films (her
Forgetting Sarah Marshall, him Transformers.) Both are finally
getting the chance to be the leads in a major motion picture, and it is a
step back for both.
again, talented pros like DeVito, Anjelica Huston, Don Johnson, Peggy Lipton
and Arnett are also abandoned with nothing really to do. And untalented
supporting actors like Heder and Shepard are even more annoying than
the time that we reach the inevitable climax back in Rome (why they are back
in Rome is a little fuzzy, since the characters are native New Yorkers), the
audience has known how this was going to end for a good hour or so.
fact that the main characters didn’t know was probably
just lazy screenwriting, but
it gets the audience thinking that these may be two of the dumbest people in
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2010 PopEntertainment.com.
All rights reserved. Posted: June 5, 2010.