by Rick Grant
This umpteenth romantic comedy uses fantasy to sell its premise, which sets it apart. Krinsten Bell stars as Beth, a vivacious smart woman, who is a curator at a NYC museum. She’s an A personality, driven by her work to excel so Beth has no time for romance. And, the relationships she’s had in the past all ended badly. It’s like she’s cursed , but hungry for romance. So she denounces love, using her job to fill the void in her heart.
While in Rome to attend her sister’s wedding, Beth goes to the famous fountain of love and takes three coins out. The legend has it that anyone taking coins out of the fountain will cast a spell on the owners of the coins and they will fall hopelessly in love with her. The thing is, the love struck men are a motley crew of misfits who stalk her back in NYC, all hypnotized by the love spell. Suddenly, Beth has three stalkers to escape from.
One of Beth’s pursuers is a budding magician played by Jon Heder with his Napoleon Dynamite sidekick, Efren Ramirez (“Pedro”) playing his videographer. The next love struck fool is a sausage king played by Danny DeVito. Antonio is an American street artist played by Will Arnett who is caught up in the love spell. And the last of the magical coin owners is a narcissist who used to only love himself, but now, wants to share that love with Beth.
Busy putting together an important art exhibit, Beth is stalked by these idiots. The catch is, one of them, is a genuine possible boyfriend, Nick, played by Josh Duhamel. She has a casino chip she found in the fountain and thinks that he is wooing her under the love fountain’s spell. It turns out, the chip is not his.
The absurd fantasy is a great device for creating funny situations as Beth is going crazy with men popping up everywhere who think they love her. The artist paints a nude portrait of her on the side a building, and her office looks like a florist shop while her boss, Celeste (Angelica Huston) is not pleased by all the commotion which is distracting Beth from her job of organizing the art exhibit gala. Now, Beth’s job is on the line.
Kristen Bell skillfully plays the comedic elements with her natural charm and acting talent. Of course, she has to decide if Nick’s love is real or he’s just another fool struck by the fountain’s love spell.
The farcical aspects of the scenario are deftly executed by Bell and her supporting cast, which makes the movie fun for the audience. It’s a lightweight comedy with a touch of romance as Beth begins to realize that Nick is for real.
As romantic comedies go, at least this one is different, funny, and fun. It fulfills its promise and leaves the audience smiling as they leave the theater.
WHEN IN ROME movie review
by Rick Grant