A Lot Like Love review by Cinema Guru BoyOne of the basic components of romantic comedies is that opposites attract, but what if both parties are incredibly unlikeable in completely opposite ways? This can only hurt a generic romantic comedy. A Lot Like Love tries very hard to be a film with wide appeal, not trying to alienate any viewer, but ends up being incredibly forgettable in the process.
Thr film begins by stealing from the quintessential screwball caomedy, When Harry Met Sally... by introdcing the two leading characters by having them show up with other partners before they travel on a long trip together, this time by plane. Granted, Oliver's (Ashton Kutcher) partner turned out to be his sister, whereas Emily (Amanda Peet) was ending her relationship, but the point remains the same. If only the rest of the film was anywhere nearly as good as Harry. They continue with one of the single most annoying film techniques ever by playing a really good song, this one being Third Eye Blind's "Semi-Charmed Life" and placing dialogue over the lyrics. This shows me right off the bat that director Nigel Cole knows very little about filmmaking, which is sad, as his feature debut, Saving Grace, is possibly the best stoner comedy ever.
But as it turns out, both characters made the trip from their home in Los Angeles to New York just temporarily. They spend time together while they're there, and thus the audience gets to know them a little bit better. Unfortunately, they're not anyone that someone would want to get to know better. Oliver and Emily are both immensely unlikeable. Oliver is something of a pile of geek, and Ashton Kutcher as a nerd just doesn't fly. Emily tries for that cool-but-not-in-a-preppy-way-but-more-in-an-artistic-way type of cool, but comes off as more of a selfish brat. So why should we even care if these two ever get together? And if that's so, why bother for the rest of the film?
However, after disliking Emily, we find why she's in New York in the first, and it's so littered with sentimentality and saccarine, that it feels manipulative, another fault of Mr. Cole. But what's worse than Cole's handling of this script is the script itself. First time feature writer Colin Patrick Lynch seemed to just be going through the motions, as not only was there no plot device, it was just two attractive people who couldn't get their crap together enough to be together, but this was possibly the worst dialogue EVER. Both characters were supposed to be witty, but their lines were groaner punchlines all the way across the board.
Well, the film flashes forward a few years, when Oliver and Emily's paths cross again. That's as close to a device as this film, as it's a collection of the single days every couple years that these people's paths cross. Emily is breaking off another relationship. We don't know why, it seems important to know why, but we don't, we just know that the fellow is a jerk, and that's gotta be a good enough reason for the audience. So Emily calls Oliver in desperation and so becomes vingette number 2. This happens five times in all, and it's pretty much the same story five times over. One of them is vulnerable, contacts the other, and then they part ways to meet again in the next vingette. Maybe that's good enough for some people.
What it comes down to is that the funny parts just weren't funny, which hurts the comedy parts, and the characters weren't anyone for whom to root, which hurts the romantic part, so this romantic comedy just didn't work. Kal Penn showed charisma in a bit part as Jeeter, Oliver's business partner, but unfortunately he would've been better if he had anything funny to say. Really, everyone associated with this film is better than the material. The characters didn't even seem to really like each other, but just constantly needed a shoulder to cry on. Is getting together to cope with a sense of vulnerability a lot like love? Let's hope not.
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