Critic's Diss!

When in Rome

When in Rome
Director: Mark Steven Johnson
Screenwriter: Mark Steven Johnson
Cast: Kristen Bell, Josh Duhamel, Anjelica Huston, Danny DeVito, Will Arnett
Release Date: 2010-02-03
Rated: PG-13
Genre: Film
Our Rating: 1.50

Hot on the heels of Amy Adams’s soggy Irish travelogue (Leap Year) comes yet another pre-programmed rom-com with young photogenic actors struggling to overcome hack direction, shoddy writing, and a cheesy fantasy premise right out of an episode of ’60s sitcom Love American Style.

Kristen Bell stars as Beth, one of those uppity movie New York gals so focused on her career that she’s doomed to be a klutzy social loser unable to keep a man for long. After getting dumped, Beth very reluctantly takes a few days off from her gallery gig at the Guggenheim to jet to magical Rome for her kid sister’s wedding, though she thinks it’s a huge mistake. Turns out best man Nick is pretty dreamy (Josh Duhamel) if a little cocky. A sitcom-styled misunderstanding finds her plucking coins from an enchanted love fountain, causing four random strangers to fall hopelessly in love with her. (Yes, this movie was made in this decade.)

The love-struck saps are played by normally funny guys — Will Arnett, Jon Heder, Danny DeVito, and Dax Shepard — who appear to be racing to ruin their comedy reputations. At least Shepard (Bell’s real-life boyfriend) is well-cast; he excels at playing dopes, and his clueless male-model character is worth some giggles. Though oddball cutie Kristen Schaal (Flight of the Conchords) cameos, just about everything else flops hard. Bell and Duhamel show flashes of chemistry, but they’re rarely given more than about 90 seconds to develop it before somebody inexplicably flips ass over teakettle or suffers head trauma or stumbles face-first into a lamppost. — Corey Hall


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