When Beth, an unlucky-in-love New
York curator (Kristen Bell) takes a whirlwind trip to Rome
for her sister's wedding, an unexpected crush takes her by
surprise. Quickly let down, she defiantly plucks coins from
the Fontana de Amore, magically igniting the passions of some
comically unsuitable suitors. As a charming reporter (Josh
Duhamel) becomes zealously smitten, Beth is skeptical that
he's the real deal.
It doesn’t get more by-the-numbers than this tired romantic comedy from co-writer/director Mark Steven Johnson that takes an interesting premise and goes nowhere with it. That premise is based loosely on Italy’s Trevi Fountain where both locals and tourists alike cast coins into hoping that their wishes will come true. The fountain in the film is apparently meant for those looking for love- and legend has it that the owner of the coin will fall in love with whoever picks up his/her coin (that’s one way of deterring thieves).
While in Rome to attend her younger sister’s wedding, art curator Beth (Kristen Bell) who has never had much luck in love meets a tall and handsome stranger Nicholas (Josh Duchamel) whom she develops an instant connection with. But just when she gathers up her courage to take a chance on him, she spies him kissing another woman. In her fit of bitterness, Beth goes into a cynical rant about love and picks up five tokens of love from the fountain, without knowing of course the legend and the fact that she will have to put up with a group of aggressive suitors who believe that she is the one.
Is it any mystery to its audience who Beth will eventually fall in love with? Not at all- since one would most likely have watched enough rom-coms to know straightaway the answer to that question. To reach that inevitable conclusion however, Beth has to endure the declarations of love from a lanky street magician (Jon Heder), a narcissistic male model (Dax Shepard), a painter (Will Arnett) and a dimunitive sausage magnate (Danny Devito). Despite the combined heft of Heder, Shepard, Arnett and Devito, none of the supporting characters manage to be more than just thinly drawn stereotypes for temporary comic relief.
The fault lies with David Diamond and David Weissman’s uninspired script- the duo also responsible for another Walt Disney Pictures dud “Old Dogs”- which squanders what comedic potential the premise has in favour of lame visual gags and unfunny lines. As a result, the romance between Beth and Nicholas rarely sparkles as both Kristen Bell and Josh Duchamel, who actually do have chemistry with each other, are forced to banter with flat dialogue and dreary slapstick.
Perhaps the only consolation is that director Mark Steven Johnson keeps the pace of the movie brisk so even if one gag falls flat, there’s always another nearby to distract you. But there’s no getting away from how formulaic everything in this movie is, or the fact that the filmmakers have obviously spared little effort to make this any more interesting. Watch it if you need something to occupy yourself with one lazy Sunday afternoon- or don’t. Either way, you’re really not missing out on much.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
The extras come as lacklustre as the movie. There is a blooper reel, three deleted scenes that add nothing more to the story and two music videos- “Starstrukk” and “Stupid Love Letter”.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 only comes alive during the various bubblegum tunes in the movie- otherwise, you won’t be able to tell much from your back speakers. Visuals are clear and sharp, but due to the soft lighting used in the movie, may not be as obvious all the time.
by Gabriel Chong
Posted on 29 June 2010