WHEN IN ROME
Beth (Kristen Bell), an ambitious young curator at New York's Guggenheim Museum, is disillusioned with romance when she meets footballer-turned reporter Nick (Josh Duhamel) in Rome at her sister Joan's (Alexis Dziena) wedding. She plucks four coins from the so-called fountain of love, inexplicably igniting the passion of those who threw them in: sausage magnate Al (Danny DeVito), street magician Lance (Jon Heder), besotted painter Antonio (Will Arnett) and tattooed, self-loving Gale (Dax Shepard). But how can Beth determine what is the real thing?
Review by Louise Keller:
While the storyline is all about magic and the magic of love, sadly this romantic comedy offers little of it. Magic, that is. Never mind that the script is far fetched. The plot, the characters and the dialogue - individually and as a whole, simply do not work. The ideas fall as flat as a squashed sausage, and that includes Danny DeVito's sausage king, who believes there 'is not an expression on earth that can't be expressed through sausage'. But DeVito is not to blame, nor is Jon Heder for his over-the-top street magician, or Dax Shepard for his narcissistic, male model nor Will Arnett's maniacal, obsessed painter. Fantasy, romance and misadventure here result in an embarrassing misfire.
The film's low point comes in a pitch-black restaurant that promises senses without sight and where waiters (plus admirers) are wearing night-goggles. Sense-less is the word that comes to mind. And no words can describe that scene in which one character hangs upside down, bound like a mummy in the protagonist's apartment. Josh Duhamel (remember him in Win a Date With Tad Hamilton?) is eye-candy as romantic lead Nick, the former pro-footballer and Kristen Bell (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) is fine as Beth the young art curator looking for love. When they meet at her sister's wedding in Rome, Beth has signal envy (his mobile has better reception than hers). But it is at the one of Rome's Fountains of love that Beth's fate changes. It is desperation that makes her collect four coins instead of tossing in her own and Beth's subsequent involuntary collection of hearts is the key, but badly executed, plot point.
The comedy is forced at every turn, and the resolution turns into predictable, formulaic corn. Angelica Huston is wasted in a small role as the art gallery boss, but we are treated to a glimpse of the striking interiors of the Guggenheim, unlike the last time seen on film (desecrated in The International during an action shoot-out scene). Screenwriters David Diamond and David Weissman seem to have thrown together a bunch of ideas that do not gel. The title too, is a bit of a tease, with only a brief top and tail in the beautiful city of Rome. However, what we do see of Rome through John Bailey's lens is stunning, as are the shots of New York's Central Park - especially those showcasing its autumnal colours.
First published in the Sun Herald
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WHEN IN ROME (PG)
CAST: Kristen Bell, Josh Duhamel, Danny DeVito, Jon Heder, Will Arnett, Dax Shepard, Anjelica Huston
PRODUCER: Rikki Lea Bestall, Gary Foster, Mark Steven Johnson, Andrew Panay, Ezra Swerdlow
DIRECTOR: Mark Steven Johnson
SCRIPT: David Diamond, David Weissman
CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Bailey
EDITOR: Ryan Folsey, Andrew Marcus
MUSIC: Christopher Young
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Kirk M. Petrucelli
RUNNING TIME: 91 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Walt Disney
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 22, 2010