When in Rome Review
August 3rd, 2010
What happens when a woman who doesn't believe in love meets the man she never knew existed? She gets stalked by four other men for taking their coins out of a public fountain! So begins When in Rome, a new comedy with Kristen Bell and Josh Duhamel.
Bell travels to Rome in lieu of her sister's hasty wedding. While there, she meets groomsman Duhamel who is quite the charmer. But eventually, after cursing herself into drawing five men towards her, she doesn't appear quite so valuable. Among these men stalking her are Will Arnett, Jon Heder, and Danny DeVito.
The movie borrows every cliche from the rom-com book. But every rom-com is made up of two things: the 'rom' and the 'com'.
The romance here is laughably strange and ultimately creepy. Once she is finally having a moment with the right guy, all of a sudden another pops up! The romance between our two leads goes up and down, as typically is the case in such a movie, but it makes a huge error. At the very end, something significant is about to happen between our two leads, when, all of a sudden, there is another loophole thrown in and another up and down. This was a completely unnecessary choice on the screenwriters who, until then, had a very satisfactory ending.
But the comedy is wonderful. There is a lot of slapstick gags here, but for some reason, possibly the innocence the actors give off, they work! My favorite scene was in a restaurant with no lights at all so 'you can enhance your other four senses.' The waitress leads them in with night-vision goggles and stands by their table. "You won't know when I'm here and when I'm not," she says. I was cracking up.
But that is yet another example of just how odd and quite creepy this movie is. It borders on having a sour bite to it, but there is just enough acting zest to keep the laughs afloat. Cooking terms aside, there isn't a good story here. I don't think a good movie could have been made on this premise. But on laughs and screen charm alone, this movie is surprisingly successful in pleasing the audience it wants to retrieve. It isn't compelling or tangible enough to be good, but it tries hard and is enjoyable to watch.