Saturday, April 03, 2010

When In Rome

Use Me to Wash Your Clothes

I was in Rome some 6 years ago, and similar to Kristen Bell's Beth, got only 48 hours in the magnificent city, steeped in history, statues, and sights to just blow your mind away. I remembered tossing a coin into almost every fountain that I see, since it's practically monkey-see-monkey-do with coins just littered in the waters, though nope, no such luck in the amour department since I don't recall tossing one into the fountain depicted in the film. So I don't have such fictional luck like Beth, to be pursued by a number of suitors all smitten with her because she happened to pick up some coins placed in the fountain.

A typical romantic comedy, this one has infused some Roman superstition into it. Returning to New York from attending her sister's wedding (and comedy of errors I might add) in the fabled city, she soon finds herself being wooed by a street magician (Jon Heder), a narcissistic male model with almost the intelligence of Derek Zoolander (Dax Shepard), a painter (Will Arnett) and a sausage magnate (Danny DeVito!) who becomes Beth's patron of her museum programme. Each do just about the craziest thing to woo their lady love, because she had happened to pick up their coin from the fountain, and they have followed their vision and calling like the plague.

But of course she soon finds out that her one true love happens to be the best man at her sister's wedding, a pro-footballer turned journalist (Josh Duhamel) because of a lightning accident, but is skeptical that his advances are because of a coin she had picked up. So begins the did-he-or-didn't-he, and plenty of romantic moments weaved into the narrative written by David Diamond and David Weissman, who plays it safe with the usual structure meant to charm and basically to chronicle the number of hoops one has to jump through in order to woo one's lady love.

Like a typical romance flick, this one comes with a key message as well, which is addressing how one will know if one's falling in love with someone special. And I think it hit the note, reminding us that it's when we put someone on the pedestal and they matter more than what currently matters to us most (for Beth, it's her job), then voila, we have struck gold, or rather, Cupid has struck. So unless you see the output on this site start to dwindle...

I've never quite thought that Kristen Bell would make the romantic leading lady, from films such as Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Couples Retreat, but she continues in the genre. Her portrayal of her characters continue to be the alpha-female type who is consistently unlucky in love, and I'm waiting for her to take on something new outside of her comfort zone in order to make everyone sit up and take notice. Until then, Josh Duhamel is someone whom I've watched transition from television's Las Vegas series to the biggest summer action blockbusters like the Transformers movies, and I think it might take a while before he branches off from action or romance, or marquee a heavyweight film on his own.

The rest of the supporting cast like Anjelica Huston's chief museum curator (a poor cousin of Meryl Streep's bitchy performance in The Devil Wears Prada), Danny DeVito, Jon Heder and the rest play rather one dimensional and breezy roles in this light comedy, also because the limited runtime doesn't allow for any depth and character development. The real star of the show is of course the limited scenes of the renowned Guggenheim Museum. Last seen on screen in The International where it was badly shot up in an extended action sequence, the museum goes back to showing off its regal presence in being a place and work of art, and puts itself into my books as one of the must-go places if I happen to make my way to the Big Apple.

The Roman Holiday this is not, but it has enough charming moments thanks to Rome and the Guggenheim, to make this an average but safe romantic comedy for its intended demographic to head out and enjoy.

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