When in Rome

2010-04-22 16:02
 
When in Rome

What it's about:

Beth (Kristen Bell) is a successful Guggenheim art curator, but is also, would you believe it, unlucky in love. During a whirlwind trip to Rome for her younger sister's wedding, Beth challenges Cupid by taking five coins from a fountain of love, enchanting five different men into falling madly in love with her.

What we thought:

Sometimes a dire romantic comedy can be improved by just a couple of smartly utilised tools, and in the case if When in Rome, the accomplished cast and eye candy locations go a long way to giving an otherwise silly little movie an extreme makeover.

The premise has as much in common with magic as GOB Bluth, and is just another in a growing list of chick flicks that are out to convince haplessly single women that the reason they aren't in the perfect relationship is because they haven't come across the right magical spell yet. The Brothers Grimm have a lot of explaining to do. It's hard enough out there for a gal, Hollywood. The last thing we need is you putting fairytales and fantasy in our heads. What we need is cold, hard practical tips.

And When in Rome is about as impractical as they come. The five coins Beth plucks from a Roman fountain once belonged to five men who once found themselves heartbroken and alone in one of the most romantic cities in the world. A sausage magnate (Danny De Vito), a street magician (Jon Heder), a narcissistic model (played by Kristen Bell's real-life fiancée Dax Shepard) and an Italian painter (GOB Bluth himself, Will Arnett) are the poor schmucks who lose all reason when Beth is near. But it's the advances from sports reporter Nick (Josh Duhamel) that charms the Louboutins off her feet. Hmmm, wonder how that all works out for our romantic heroine.

As Beth, Kristen Bell (probably better known to some as Sarah Marshall and the voice of Gossip Girl) is simply a delight. She can't help it. Sassy, sexy and cute as a button, she can do no wrong and makes a lasting impression with her first leading film role. She also happens to be surrounded by a great supporting cast, which includes a deliciously bitchy Anjelica Huston as her mean boss and Don Johnson as her doting dad.

The actors, bless 'em, have a ball with the thin material, though some of the more slapsticky moments just don't gel. The mad energy conjured as each suitor relentlessly pursues Beth sometimes feels like a triple espresso shot to get you through the 90 minutes. And then a beautifully framed shot of Bell in an evening gown, standing knee-deep in a Roman fountain comes along and all seems okay with the world - if only for a fleeting moment, until the movie throws some new ridiculous lark at you to make you laugh.

But, to the writer's detriment, we chicks can spot a desperate move to impress us a mile away, so thanks for trying.


A ridiculously charming leading lady and beautiful locations help prettify an otherwise silly romantic caper.

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