Combustible Celluloid
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With: Kristen Bell, Josh Duhamel, Anjelica Huston, Danny DeVito, Will Arnett, Jon Heder, Dax Shepard, Alexis Dziena, Kate Micucci, Peggy Lipton, Luca Calvani, Keir O'Donnell, Bobby Moynihan, Kristen Schaal, Judith Malina, Lee Pace
Written by: David Weissman, David Diamond
Directed by: Mark Steven Johnson
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some suggestive content
Running Time: 91
Date: 01/29/2010

When in Rome (2010)

1 Star (out of 4)

Fountain of Uncouth

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

When in Rome is even worse than this year's first romantic comedy offering, Leap Year. Whereas that movie was just lazy and formulaic, When in Rome is stupid and lazy and formulaic. We're supposed to swoon over the lead couple, Beth (Kristen Bell) and Nick (Josh Duhamel), but they're surrounded by a huge collection of jarring, one-note cartoon characters. Beth and Nick are forced to relate to these nincompoops in a real way, rather than a silly way. In essence, the lame attempts at comedy stamps out the romance, and the romance ruins what might have been a nutty comedy.

Beth is a workaholic who takes a couple of days off for her sister's wedding in Rome. She meets the obnoxious, but charming Nick, fights with him, gets drunk, heads for a magical love fountain and retrieves a handful of coins from the water. The original owners of those coins -- who are, coincidentally, all American (including an American doing a ridiculous Italian accent) -- fall madly in love with her. They are all easily defined by a single joke. Lance (Jon Heder) is a cheesy street magician. Antonio (Will Arnett) is a goofy "Italian" painter. Gale (Dax Shepard) is a narcissistic male model. And finally, Danny DeVito is a creepy "sausage king," who sends baskets of meat rather than flowers.

A fifth coin presumably belongs to Nick, and Beth doesn't want to win his love through magic, which wouldn't be "real." This of course leads to the many usual false endings that the genre now requires. Anjelica Huston perhaps comes off worst of all as Beth's witchy boss with all of the most hideous expositional dialogue. Alexis Dziena has the thankless role as Beth's sister, but Kristen Schaal ("The Flight of the Conchords") livens things up for a minute as a creepy restaurant hostess.

Touchstone released the 2010 Blu-Ray, complete with alternate opening and ending, and -- to the credit of the producers -- lots of humorous extras. Most of the featurettes are joke-filled, and we get bloopers and deleted scenes, making it look as if, hopefully, somebody at one point had some fun on this time. We also get two music videos.

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