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Overall Rating

Awesome: 4.35%
Worth A Look: 0%
Average: 8.7%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap86.96%

3 reviews, 5 user ratings

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When in Rome (2010)
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by William Goss

"...Go See A Better Movie"
1 stars

Perhaps the single most tone-deaf and slapdash romantic comedy since 'Just My Luck', 'When in Rome' boasts a similarly fantastical premise Ė the lovelorn Kristen Bell steals five coins from a Roman fountain and earns five suitors as a result Ė and equally inept execution.

Bellís character is of course a young workaholic whose sister (Alexis Dziena) is marrying her boyfriend of two weeks in a lavish ceremony in Italy (of course), which is where Bell meets the perfectly photogenic Josh Duhamel, a sports reporter who also happens to live in New York City (of course). One misunderstanding and a little too much champagne later, Bell commits the above-mentioned offense to Venus and finds herself stalked in Manhattan by a street artist (Will Arnett), a sausage salesman (Danny DeVito), a male model (Dax Shepard) and a would-be magician (Jon Heder) until the coins are returned either to the fountain or their rightful owners.

When in Rome is the type of comedy that has two record scratches within the first two minutes to assure you that something wacky just happened (if you werenít aware, the record scratch is second only to a reaction shot of a dog when your joke isnít working). The opening scene, in which Bell is working a gala event at the Guggenheim Museum and runs into her ex-boyfriend (Lee Pace), instantly tells us what kind of movie this is (Bellís friends are a gay guy, a fat friend and a flighty pal whoís only terribly different from the lead because her hair color is) and what kind of hijinks are in store (as no grown man would, Pace leads Bell on before telling her that heís engaged to somebody else, and as no perfect stranger would, this is mistaken to be a proposition between the two before the entire crowd Ė cue record scratch).

Once in Rome, director Mark Steven Johnson (whose Ghost Rider was funnier than this) scrambles from gag to gag with little regard for visual clarity or comedic timing. When Duhamelís best man shows up late for the wedding, his cell phone goes off and then slips around as if it were some salmon he was trying to catch. When Bell fails to smash a vase in honor of the newlyweds at their reception, we see her throw out towards an old woman, only for the action to cut away and then come back to her getting up, though we never even saw her struck down. Thatís not subtlety or restraint; thatís a failure of fundamental filmmaking. The only sight gag that the film eventually lingers on for any considerable stretch of time is a climactic bit where five grown adults are crammed into an impossibly small car that is itself crammed into an elevator. If that actually sounds pretty funny to you, then you probably arenít even reading this review.

And just as Just My Luck wanted nothing to do with the icky implications of having its starlet kiss twenty strangers across New York City, Rome seems utterly unaware of the creepiness inherent to its premise. Having Kristen Bell being stalked by four nuts is meant to be played from oh-how-awkward laughs, but by the time DeVito trots out a line about how ďthere isnít an emotion that cannot be expressed through sausage,Ē itís mighty difficult to take it all at face value. (His character then sends her a literal basket of sausage as a gift, perhaps in an effort to complement the metaphorical one thatís chased her across the Atlantic.) We also get a hopeless detour into an all-dark restaurant, a tremendously transparent twist for anyone paying attention during the movie that wasnít doing so at the box office, Keir OíDonnell doing the worst Italian accent this side of Inglourious Basterds, Anjelica Huston earning an easy paycheck and embarrassing herself the least of all involved, a cameo by Napoleon Dynamiteís Pedro as a Heder sidekick named Juan (yes, really), and an inexplicably dramatic reveal of Don Johnson as Bell and Dzienaís father (heís growing both a goatee and a passing resemblance to Mickey Rourke these days).

Whatís maybe worst of all is that Bell and Duhamel have an easygoing chemistry thatís often defeated by just about every other scene and line in the movie (we have the writers of 'Old Dogs' to thank for that). They canít help it if Johnson Ė Mark, not Don Ė shoots everything in an impossible haze, as if to suggest that every scene could possibly turn out to be a dream sequence and that any character might wake us out of this nightmare. They canít help it if Bellís character is desperate for a centerpiece for her upcoming art exhibit on pain and is unaware that sheís starring in a perfect example of it. And I canít help it if Iím at a loss to come with anything as insulting about 'When in Rome' as the film already is to its audience.

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originally posted: 01/30/10 13:59:22
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User Comments

2/26/11 Stephanie Bondlow It wasn't THAT bad. It had its good moments. The main guy is pretty hot! 3 stars
9/19/10 Derek bell is a worthless c--t 1 stars
7/10/10 Melissa Roberge i seen this movie the first night it came out at the drive in & fall in love with it.Its a 5 stars
6/29/10 art I HATE THIS GARBAGE!!!! 1 stars
5/26/10 Bridie rush it is a funny movie for someone with a great scent of humer and very unpredictable 3 stars
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  29-Jan-2010 (PG-13)
  DVD: 15-Jun-2010

  N/A (PG)

  29-Jan-2010 (PG)
  DVD: 15-Jun-2010

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