When in Rome
Rated PG-13; Directed by Mark Steven Johnson; Starring Kristen Bell, Josh Duhamel, Anjelica Huston, Danny DeVito, Will Arnett, Dax Shepard, Jon Heder
When in Rome is another one of those romantic comedies that goes for a silly concept. These concept films usually rely on a lack of logic and reality. Sometimes these high concept plots can work, but it requires some clever writing to pull it off. When in Rome does NOT have clever writing. It does have some nice stars, along with a decent supporting cast, but a movie needs more than that.
When Beth (Kristen Bell) has to go to Rome for her sister’s wedding, she meets Nick (Josh Duhamel). Sparks fly, but in the usual set up for a romantic comedy, Beth has the mistaken impression that Nick is a player. Upset about her lack of luck in love, she heads into the Fountain of Love (based on the famous Trevi fountain), and in a tipsy state steals five coins from the fountain. Somehow this means that the men who threw those coins are now driven into mad love for her (lucky she picked up coins belonging to men only). It also appears that charming Nick is one of the men whose coin she plucked from the fountain. So when he seems attracted to her Beth can’t believe it that it’s real.
The story is silly. A good supporting cast, including Angelica Huston as Beth’s boss, and Danny DeVito, Will Arnett, Dax Shepard, and Jon Heder as her driven suitors can’t make the jokes funny. They play ridiculous characters that do not help the film at all. In fact, their antics get rather irritating. The idea of them chasing Beth is all rather creepy. It’s a sad script that doesn’t let any of them shine.
The only thing that keeps things less than dismal is the charm of the two leads. Kristen Bell and Josh Duhamel are attractive together and keep things light. Another benefit is to have a heroine who works at the Guggenheim. The museum in New York City gets plenty of film time.
When in Rome did not have much of a chance of winning hearts and minds, and what charm it has is meager. A few jokes work, but most of it is ho-hum. With luck, both Kristen Bell and Josh Duhamel have another opportunity to make a romantic comedy that has a better script. “When in Rome” is not the kind of movie that either would want listed as the highlight of their career.