My relationship with romantic comedies has not been one of wedded bliss. More often than not, it is something I get forced into. Once you are forced into something, then you automatically have a pre-disposed attitude against the movie. Hence, I haven’t liked too many of these things. Thankfully in the last few years, if I see a romantic comedy it’s been mostly because it ends up in my review queue. This in turn has given me a softer approach to these movies but don’t think I’m going all sentimental just yet.
Beth (played by Kristen Bell) is a successful art curator for the Guggenheim. After a great art show, she is talking to her friends and mentions how she hates her ex-boyfriend: Brady Sacks’ guts (played by Lee Pace). Of course, he’s standing right behind her. They talk for a while and it appears that Brady is bitter over the fact that he got dumped at Applebees (he probably wasn’t allowed to get the Riblets, I hear they are divine). Brady then mentions he is engaged.
However, other friends around them think he just proposed to Beth. So, the whole place goes nuts and then Beth has to tell them that it was a mistake. Awww, everybody make the sad face. Anyway, so Beth’s love life stinks. But she loves her job. Yes, girls of America, remember to love your job and claim that it is more important than anything else so you too don’t ever have to fall in love. It’s icky and requires a change of underwear.
Beth also has a nutjob sister, Joan (played by Alexis Dziena) who apparently has found the man of her dreams named Umberto (played by Luca Calvani) on a business flight. Now, they are getting married (because relationships formed in the “mile high club” are long lasting) in Rome, Italy. She has invited her sister, Beth to the wedding. There at the wedding, Beth also sees her womanizing father (played by Don Johnson).
So, hold on a second. Her sister goes off and finds true love in an airport lavatory, her dad sleeps around (currently with a pro volleyball player) and oh her mom hates all men, most importantly Beth’s father. Yeah, I have no idea why Beth has issues with love. Back at the wedding, as maid of honor Beth is asked to smash a pot. By breaking it, you signify how many years of a happy marriage that new couple has. It doesn’t break (I’m pretty sure that’s a sign) until a man named Nick (played by Josh Duhamel) steps in.
The same guy also picks up the translating of Beth’s speech to the Italian crowd in some of the worst Italian ever recorded. I’m surprised he didn’t just start saying “Lasagna, Manicotti, Fettuccini, etc”. I’m getting hungry, let’s continue. Naturally, the two hit it off until Beth sees Nick kissing a random girl. It turns out later that the girl was just some crazy cousin of the grooms, it’s harmless. Beth assumes the worst (it probably involves an airport lavatory) and gets drunk. Then she finds the Fountain of Love.
Legend has it, if you throw a coin into the fountain you’ll find true love. Well, Beth doesn’t throw a coin into the fountain, she picks several up. Five in fact. She puts them in her purse and goes back to New York. Little does she know that by picking up the coins, you also automatically make those five men who threw the coins fall in love with you. Madly. Oh, we are going to have some fun with this.
Back in New York, she starts to run into these suitors. There is Antonio (played by Will Arnett), a painter who has had visions of Beth and painting her very explicitly (we are talking full nudity, hey how much can do you charge for an 8×10 and some wallets?). Next we have Lance, a street magician (played by Jon Heder) who tries to wow Beth with various illusions and card tricks.
Number three is Gale (played by Dax Shepard) who is in love with himself and Beth at the same time. They even wear matching exercise wear, isn’t it cute? Finally, there is Al Russo (played by Danny Devito) who is the sausage king of New York and wishes to tempt Beth with free sausage. Way too easy of a joke.
So that makes four suitors for those playing at home. Her sister calls at this point and explains the legend of the Fountain of Love. It also so happens that Nick is back in New York as well and trying to get Beth to go on a few dates with him. Beth is hesitant at first but slowly gives into temptation and the plot line of this movie. We had to have a love story at some point, though the idea of using Efren Ramirez as Lance’s assistant to create a Napeleon Dynamite joke six years removed is mildly amusing.
Anyway, Beth has a very important art show to prepare for with the help of her assistant, Stacey (played by Kate Micucci). In the midst of this, she also has to deal with her four suitors and the only way to get rid of them at this point would be to travel back to Rome to put the coins back in the fountain. Then there is still the mystery of the fifth coin, a poker chip that looks familiar. Could Nick be the fifth coin? Does this mean that Nick really isn’t in love with Beth? Stay tuned.
They live happily ever after. Gosh darn it, I told myself I wouldn’t give away the ending. Of course, when the last fifteen hundred romantic comedies have the same ending, it’s hardly a revelation. I was somewhat interested to see this film because of Kristen Bell. I found her to be extremely cute from her Veronica Mars days and was hoping that she would be something of a breakout star.
Well, she is certainly talented but I’d be lying if this movie actually let her do anything except be a clumsy female who falls in love. Josh Duhamel doesn’t do much either but he was better served for his role in the Transformers movies or the series Las Vegas. In fact, the only thing that carries this movie acting wise are the four suitors to Beth: Will Arnett, Danny DeVito, Jon Heder and Dax Shepard.
In particular, the work of Jon Heder and Dax Shepard are fantastic (yes, I said Jon Heder was fantastic, mark that down for the kids at home, that should be one movie I enjoyed him in). They actually carry the show and have the most consistent laughs. Without them, this comedy wouldn’t be that funny. In fact, I probably wouldn’t have any hair left to pull. However, I am slightly balding (hey I can’t blame that on this movie or the fact that I’m envious of Don Johnson’s hair that doesn’t move at all).
The video is in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is probably the best part of the movie as the scenery really shines and the color is very vivid. The blu-ray 1080p resolution pops out at you and this would actually be a good candidate to have the movie completely muted since Kristen Bell and Kate Micucci are very easy on the eyes. There is nothing worth complaining over in the video presentation.
Audio is presented in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (also included is French and Spanish 5.1 DD tracks). It’s kinda amazing that a simple romantic comedy that is almost always dialog driven is given the extra step up in audio quality. Dialog is crystal clear and even if the only sound effects are an occasional fall or slip as the main characters are extremely clumsy. Subtitles are provided for English SDH, French and English.
- Previews: Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Lost: The Final Season, Blu-Ray, Alice in Wonderland and ESPN World Cup 2010.
- Alternate Opening and Ending 7:17: For the alternate opening, Beth gets trapped outside of the Guggenheim and of course that leads to security not knowing who she is. Well informed security, good to see. For the ending, it’s pretty much the same except for another awesome Jon Heder magic trick.
- Crazy Casanovas: Mischief From the Set 12:28: This would be the behind the scenes piece where they describe odds and ends about the movie. Some interesting tidbits include: funny moments with Kristen Bell, Danny Devito cursing in Italian and more magic tricks from Jon Heder.
- Extended Pain from the Suitors 2:39: This involves Kristen, Mr. Arnett, Mr. Heder and Mr. Shepard. It’s a trio of scenes where the three men in question are part of the art exhibit. Watch for the Electronic Chair Illusion.
- Kerplunk!: Bloopers from Rome 3:07: Some funny blooper moments from the crew. These never run long enough, especially considering the level of talent in the suitors.
- Deleted Scenes 7:44: Eight deleted scenes are included. There isn’t much here unless you are just looking for more footage rather than items that can actually be inserted back in.
- Music Videos 6:47: The first video is Starstrukk by 3OH!3 featuring Katy Perry. Katy Perry is pretty hot in this one. Too bad the rest of the video is pretty obnoxious including some really bad whistling. The second video is Stupid Love Letter by Friday Night Boys. This is honestly even worse, I’m not sure if its just really Emo or really terrible.
- Poker Chip Easter Egg 1:11: By clicking the poker chip at the end of the extras menu, you gain access to a brief feature where the stars go over the craziest thing that you ever did for love. Danny Devito’s is by far the best.
I guess I was hoping for something different from When in Rome. It’s not the worst romantic comedy I’ve seen, it’s just barely above average. The sole factor that makes it a little above the norm is the talents of the four suitors: Danny Devito, Dax Shepard, Will Arnett & Jon Heder. Each one brings an array of comic talent to the movie and makes you want to watch, even if you are solely waiting for Jon Heder to pull out another magic trick.
The blu-ray disc does shine greatly as this has a very polished and beautiful picture along with a good set of audio chops. The extras is also fairly plentiful even if the content is more quantity over quality. In such, I really can’t recommend it outside of a rental. It’s certainly wonderful in some parts but like most romantic comedies it gets brought down by the sea of cliches that are included.