When in Rome:: Could Have Been Great

When I saw Twilight: New Moon with my neice, we saw a preview for When in Rome.  We both thought it looked really funny.  She saw it before I did and I asked her what she thought.  “It was okay, not as good as I expected,” was her reply.  I still decided to give it a chance as a rental.  At first I thought, “what’s she talking about, this is really funny.”  And then I started to see what she was talking about. 

The premise is really a good one: what would happen if you took wishing coins OUT of the famous “Foutain of Love” in Rome, instead of tossing them in?  It starts out good, Kristen Bell is adorable and believable as a type A, workaholic with incredibly bad luck.  She seems to be the new it comedy girl and I loved her in Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  I’m not usually a Josh Duhamel fan because I think he tends to be a little too cool for school, if you know what I mean.  However, he was a charming clutz in this and I really loved him doing slapstick.

Now I know this kind of movie isn’t meant to be realistic in any fashion, but there still needs to be a semblance of realism to make it watchable.  If we don’t have a little bit of reality sprinkled over the top of romantic comedies then they are hard to follow.  My first complaint wasn’t a movie ruiner, but was a complaint of missed opportunity.  She pulls four coins from the fountain and they all belonged to men.  Really?  Are so many men throwing coins into the Fountain of Love in Rome that all four random coins she would grab are from men?  I think it would have made for an interesting scene or two if one of them was a straight woman who was very confused by her feelings.  They still could have kept it very “G” rated. 

I thought that the over the top men she did fall in love with were pretty funny, (Will Arnett – Arrested Development, Dax Shepard – Let’s Go to Prison, Jon Heder – Napoleon Dynamite and Danny DiVito – who doesn’t know Danny DiVito?) for the most part, but some of their antics were a little dumb and some were so unrealistic that it takes you right out of the movie.  Will Arnett’s character paints a giant nude of her on the side of a building.  Did he get a permit for that?  Not to mention that all he would get through was about five brush strokes before the cops would arrest him.  He later claims that he isn’t really an artist, really?  All of his drawings of Ms. Bell look amazingly like her, is he really that unaware of what art is like?

Jon Heder’s magician character was so funny as were his tricks.  I do believe he was making fun of Criss Angel and was dead on.  There is even an homage to Napoleon Dynamite, but I don’t want to ruin it for anybody.  If have seen Napole0n Dynamite, you’ll know what it is.

There is also a date that Josh Duhamel and Kristen Bell go on that almost is a good premise.  It’s a restaurant where you eat entirely in the dark.  I couldn’t help but wonder why this New York restaurant (that, I know, doesn’t really exist) didn’t take more precautions to keep people from touching other people and breaking things.  How did it stay in business more than a night after being so poorly planned out?  Kristen Schaal from Flight of the Conchords was very funny as their hostess with nightvision goggles, but this scene was short and it’s location seemed pointless other than to have a lot of akward moments.

Okay, so up to this point in the movie I can forgive the lack of realism, but now comes the bad writing and I can’t forgive that.  It had three climaxes.  Kristen Bell is convinced three times that she pulled Josh Duhamel’s coin out of the fountain and tries to run away from him three times (one of the times is because she misunderstands a kiss).  It’s excessive and annoying.  If her realization about taking a chance on love came a little more organically then maybe the writers wouldn’t have resorted to false endings.  I can think of several things that could have saved this movie, I just wish that the writers had also thought of them.  It really could have been a cute and funny romantic comedy, but it wasn’t.

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