From 2003 up until 2007, I was lucky enough to have “movie reviewer” as my job description. As such, I’ve built up a *lot* of reviews for just about every movie that came out during those years, as well as reviews of classic movies.
So, I give you my very first regular feature: The Barenaked Archives. These are reviews that I did for SIN or Hollywood Elsewhere (or both). Sadly, SIN and my column on HE are both gone, so this is now the only place online you can see these old columns.
First up, A Lot Like Love:
A Lot Like Love Is a Lot Average
Is there such thing as love at first sight? Can you meet the right person at the wrong time? Is there such thing as the “right” time? Is it ever too late to be with the one you love? Can you get a refund for a movie you saw for free?
These are questions asked by the pedestrian romantic comedy A Lot Like Love (okay, except for the last one) starring Ashton Kutcher (in a less manic, idiotic role than usual) and Amanda Peet, and directed by Nigel Cole, who brought us the cute 2003 British movie Calendar Girls.
Peet and Kutcher are Emily and Oliver, two people who meet on a transcontinental flight from Los Angeles to New York. After becoming members of the mile-high club, their paths cross several times over the next seven years, but it’s never the “right” time. Will they ever wake up and realize what they want could be right in front of them?
Romantic comedies of this nature, where the two leads spend several years trying to get together, have been done before, and quite successfully (see: When Harry Met Sally). So, what makes this one falter?
The weak script, for one. All of the funniest moments were shown in the trailers, so if you’ve seen them, you’re good to go. Repetitive dialogue, meant to give us catchphrases or cute inside-jokes, winds up being annoying and overdone.
And even though they give us “movie reasons” for the two leads to get together (“Oh look, he’s planned out his life for the next six years! Oh look, she’s crazy and unpredictable and free! These two opposites would be perfect for each other!”), I never felt truly compelled to root for them. Yes, they’re both beautiful, and yes, they’re opposites, but give us some more to go on than just that.
The movie drags in places and meanders in others, taking its time to get to the inevitable conclusion. And even though we all know where it’s going, when somebody in the audience shouts out a pretty big ending plot point a full ten minutes before the movie gets to said point, it’s a sign that there probably should’ve been some rewriting.
A deaf character provides a welcome (albeit minor) change to a standard mentor/confidant role, and Kutcher and Peet occasionally exhibit some chemistry (high praise coming from me, given that I couldn’t care less for Kutcher), but it’s not enough to recommend this for anything more than a matinee at the dollar theater.
The sad thing about the romantic comedy genre is that it is, by its nature, predictable. Will they get together? Of course they will. Otherwise it wouldn’t be a happy ending. It seems that romantic comedies have become sort of an “easy” genre, where as long as the studios do X and Y and Z and package it with pretty people, audiences will come in enough to make back the bottom line. It’s frustrating that they don’t even try anymore. Unless you’re a huge fan of the stars, skip this and go to Blockbuster to get your fix.