Movie Review: When in Rome
Less than a month into the new year, we are already seeing a second major romantic comedy being released in theaters. While last year’s It’s Complicated and (500) Days of Summer did all they could to pump some oxygen into the seemingly lifeless genre, When in Rome shows up dead on arrival.
The latest version of the story we’ve all seen 100 times stars the always likable Kristen Bell as the obligatory career-obsessed woman who excels in every aspect of her life except her love life (see: Katherine Heigl in The Ugly Truth, Sandra Bullock in The Proposal). She stumbles along in search of Mr. Right until she travels to Rome for her younger sister’s wedding, where she meets a charming, yet equally clumsy Josh Duhamel. They hit it off immediately, until a classic misunderstanding results in Bell chugging a bottle of champagne and picking coins out of the fountain of love.
As the legend goes, all the men who threw those coins in the fountain are now cast under the spell of being in love with Kristen Bell. That’s right, guys apparently need to be under a spell to notice Kristen Bell. She soon finds out what she has done when a crew of doofuses begin stalking her. Bell then has to overcome the familiar problem of wondering if Duhamel is really in love with her or is he just under the spell, and we run the gamut of rom-com clichés along the way. Among them are the montage of sight gags, the supposedly touching personal revelation and the realization of what it really means to be in love.
Kristen Bell and Josh Duhamel are about as good as the material allows them to be, and funnymen like Will Arnett and Dax Shepard supply a few good laughs, but the script doesn’t really leave enough room for them to make any sort of impact. In fact, all the supporting characters seem underutilized as even crafty veterans like Danny DeVito and Anjelica Huston fail to add some spice to the bland story.
There’s a scene toward the end of the movie where all the men under the spell are returned their respective coins. The trance is immediately broken, and I’m strangely reminded of The Wizard of Oz as each of them discuss what they have learned from this whole experience. I guess that was just wishful thinking. When in Rome is a cookie-cutter romantic comedy that is completely forgettable despite the best efforts of its promising cast.
RIYL: Hitch, Good Luck Chuck, not being surprised.