Sometimes I wonder what it is exactly that gets a film made and released. Is it the actor attached to the vehicle or is it the genre of vehicle that is the deciding factor? When in Rome happens to be one of those movies that probably should’ve gone to where screenplays go to die.
Beth (Kristen Bell) is a dedicated art curator who has always put her career before her relationships. After learning that her younger sister, Joan (Alexis Dziena), is getting married after having only known her soon-to-be husband for a couple of weeks, Beth begins to question her own love life.
She reluctantly takes a few days off work to fly to Rome to attend her sister’s wedding. At the wedding she meets Nick (Josh Duhamel), an attractive man who seems to show some interest in her after she struggles to complete the maid of honor task of breaking a vase that will signify how many years of happiness the couple will have based upon the broken pieces. Just as she starts to let her guard down, she sees Nick kiss another woman.
Frustrated and kicking herself for being vulnerable, Beth begins drinking and wanders out to the lover’s fountain outside of the wedding. Cursing the love goddess, Beth picks up five of the coins that others have thrown in as they wished for love. By picking up the coins, Beth has changed the superstition of the fountain. The men who threw the coins that she picked up have a vision of her and believe that she is the one they are destined to be with.
After returning from the wedding, Beth comes into contact with four men who have very specific ways of trying to gain her attention and affection. Al (Danny DeVito) tries to woo her with sausage, Antonio (Will Arnett) wants to see and paint her feet, Lance (Jon Heder) wants to show her his magic skills and Gale (Dax Shepard) wants to look beautiful with her. They are determined to make Beth love them, unaware that their feelings are more of a curse than real emotion.
While getting back to her normal work routine, Beth receives a call from Nick asking her out. Their courting is awkward and full of mishaps. Beth is under the assumption that the fifth coin she took from the fountain belongs to Nick and abruptly ends their relationship. Following the break up, Beth is determined to return the coins and break the hex that has been put upon her.
I want to say that the basic idea for this story isn’t horrible. I think the follow through and story development were the real problems. Bell is a very likable actress, but surrounding her with a list of oddball characters that aren’t developed doesn’t help her chances at having a successful starring vehicle. All of the characters apart from Bell’s are one-note; they have zero back story and there are no reasons to care about them.
I actually like Duhamel as an actor; I think he has a charming nature to him, but films like this will not advance his career. The four suitors are funny actors and have done some great work, but this film was a complete waste of their talents. The one thing I found amusing in the film was the brief cameo of Heder’s co-star in Napoleon Dynamite, Pedro (Efren Ramirez). He was in a brief scene with Heder and it was a nod to fans of the film.
The ending credits were so awful. A song and dance number by the cast was not the best way to end an already terrible film. I felt sorry and a little embarrassed for the actors who had to take part in the ending. I’m all for a good romantic comedy, but the romance has to be real – which it wasn’t – and it has to be funny – which it wasn’t. Rom-com’s don’t need to break the mold, just tell a good story with likable characters.