Walking into this movie I was hoping to be pleasantly surprised. And although I was definitely surprised it wasn’t pleasant. “When in Rome directed by Mark Steven Johnson (Daredevil”) is a painfully disappointing film that has nothing to offer but melodramatic cliches a horribly untenable screenplay and substandard acting.
When Beth (played by Kristen Bell) travels to Rome to attend her sister’s wedding she has no idea what’s in store for her. A woman who places work and success above romance Beth plans to return to her curator job in New York as soon as possible. Yet as irony would have it she meets a charming romantic man named Nick (Josh Duhamel). As the night proceeds they hit it off together— until Beth sees Nick kissing another woman.
Depressed and drunk Beth jumps into a nearby love fountain and picks out five coins. But little does she know that her life is about to transform into a creepy unromantic stalker game when the owners of the coins fall madly in love with her.
As the movie progresses Beth’s unappealing stalkers pervasively attempt to reveal their love. Nick also continues to pursue Beth. The catch? Beth doesn’t know whether or not he is under the spell.
“When in Rome” is a failure on almost every level.
Firstly the movie is just not humorous.
Whether it’s Lance the nauseating magician who pulls out his heart or Dale the infuriating model who shows off his body whenever he has the chance the characters in this movie reveal the fact that the screenwriter apparently does not understand humor. On the contrary the movie is often awkward relying on creepy situations instead of clever realistic humor.
Furthermore the dialogue is excruciating. With lines such as “Even in the dark you’re beautiful the film descends into an unrealistic and melodramatic portrayal of love. As there is nearly no character development, the audience will find it difficult to empathize with, or even comprehend, the purpose of this love story.
Even the acting is disappointing. With subpar performances, the film cannot manage to lift its head above water, let alone swim. Even with the bad acting and terrible screenplay, the writer still attempts to convey a Disney-like theme of love.
In a world where everyone works too much, love is idealized as the cure for all the unhappiness and stress of life; yet, the film does not develop the characters well enough to emphasize what real love is. Furthermore, even if Nick and Beth somehow characterize an amateurish ideal of what love should be, the movie also inadvertently emphasizes the disturbing and unappealing nature of love.
On the upside, the premise of the film is slightly charming, albeit a bit simple. And, although most of the flick is painful to sit through, there are a few comic moments. For instance, Beth is asked to break a wedding vase belonging to her sister and her fiance. The number of pieces the vase shatters into is, supposedly, the number of years the couple will be married. Needless to say, Beth cannot even break the vase.
Even with a few humorous moments, though, the movie cannot lift itself beyond a shallow chick flick wrought with predictability and unrealistic dialogue. Unfunny and cheesy, this romantic comedy is the epitome of cinematic scum.
Score: 1 out of 5 stars