There is a saying, ‘ when in Rome do as the Romans do“. I would love to put this movie in the Roman Coliseum of old and unleash a group of hungry lions to devour it. This film stars Kristen Bell from the now defunct show Veronica Mars. She plays the character of Beth Harper, a curator for the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. It also stars Josh Duhamel (aka Mr Fergie), famous for his role as the heroic soldier of the Transformer films. Josh Duhamel plays former football player Nick Beamon whose career was struck short by a bolt of lighting to the neck. I truly wonder if Josh Duhamel was really struck by a bolt of lighting for taking on this role. When in Rome is your typical modern day romance comedy. The setting shifts throughout the film from Rome to New York and then back to Rome.
The movie begins with Beth Harper, who seems to be out of luck when it comes to love. While she visits Rome to attend her sister’s wedding, she could only hope that it were she standing in altar with the love of her life. It seems to be a love that has eluded her for sometime. During the wedding reception Beth meets Nick, and they both seem to hit it off. Despite her past struggles with finding love, she attempts to go for it with Nick. In a burst of pure blind passion, she follows Nick out to the streets of Rome with a bottle of champagne and two glasses on hand. Unfortunately, Beth is intercepted by a hot girl dressed in red who decides to give Nick more than the customary greeting of a hand shake. Heartbroken, Beth decides to soak her sorrows in a nearby Fountain of Love. While in this fountain, she cynically picks a handful of coins previously thrown in by others in search of love. The film then shifts to New York where she quickly realizes that she has attracted the attention of several men. First you have the sausage king played by Danny Devito. Then you have the gifted painter played by Will Arnett. Followed by the weird magician played by Jon Heder. Finally there’s the male model played by Dax Shepard. Apparently, the coins confiscated by Beth from the fountain of love belonged to each one of them. They endlessly pursuit Beth around the city going to extra lengths to win her love. In what I deem to be a nod to the great film “Napoleon Dynamite”; Jon Heder’s character hangs himself upside down wrapped like a mummy in Beth’s apartment. While he attempts to impress her by freeing himself from the bondage, Efren Ramirez (aka Pedro) stands wayside filming the spectacular stunt whilst sporting the classic wig made famous in the afore mentioned film. In the meantime, Nick Beamon shows up professing his love for Beth Harper. He even takes her to a spot in the city called the Blackout. You eat and drink in the dark! What a concept! When Beth realizes that all the men chasing her are under a love spell, she starts to question how real Nick’s affections are for her. The answer is revealed in the conclusion of the film.
The one aspect of this film that stands out is it’s location. You cannot have a romantic film without having at least Rome or New York City as your backdrop. The scene by the fountain of love really embodies the feel of romance in Rome. First you have a lovely fountain in the middle of a quiet little square. There’s a couple in love sitting by the fountain expressing their affection for one another. This is followed by the warm relaxing sound of water flowing from the fountain. The evening dances with peace and serenity. It just gives one that warm feeling all over. The observant eye will get a glimpse of the artistic and romantic contributions made to Rome. We get to see some of the structures that have made this city famous. Back in the states, the scenes in New York City give you a view of the interior and exterior of the famous Guggenheim Museum. The artwork displayed is stunning. The scenes shot in Central Park reveal the real hidden jewel of the city. We are also treated to a tour of Greenwich Village, with it’s trendy bars and outdoor cafes. All of this, if nothing else makes this film interesting.
In my opinion, the true romantic films are all in the vaults of the golden age of cinema. But you can’t compare apples to oranges. This movie season has already given us a film like this, it’s called ‘Leap Year’! When in Rome was predictable at times and unreal. The scene where the coin rolls down without falling on its side through the spiral corridors of the Guggenheim Museum, was not convincing. Also, you know that the coin was going to find it’s way to the the character of Nick Beamon. The acting wasn’t too great. It seemed like the supporting cast knew that they were making a bad film. They reciting their lines as if trying to pry them from memory, or reading them off a cue card. I do want to give credit to Kristen Bell. Her portrayal of Beth Harper was convincing. She played it like a coming of age woman that was truly seeking her soul mate. You could just sense the true feelings she was putting into the character. It was also good to see Don Johnson (Crockett from Miami Vice) back on the screen after all these years. As for Josh Duhamel, lets just say he still has Fergie and another Transformers film on the way.
I give this film two stars.
Sly “the Critic”