A Tale of Bad Timing
In a world as fast-paced and frantic as ours is today, it’s almost a miracle when two people manage to maintain a loving relationship -- even a man and woman who seem meant for each other like the characters played by Ashton Kutcher and Amanda Peet in A Lot Like Love.
Director Nigel Cole (Calendar Girls) claims that although this movie reminds him of the great old-fashioned romantic comedies he enjoyed in the past, he was drawn to it because of its contemporary sensibility. “A Lot Like Love is quite unusual because most romantic comedies are structured so that they essentially spend two hours building to a kiss and end with the start of a relationship,” he points out. “This one starts right away with a kiss and then the fun of the story comes in the surprising developments that come after that when these two potential lovers don’t come together. It’s really a story of bad timing.”
What keeps Oliver (Kutcher) and Emily (Peet) apart? Career goals, other romantic relationships, moving to different cities -- all play a role in preventing them from getting together. These obstacles are very real ones today. My husband and I can attest to that; it took us almost twenty years to overcome similar challenges. In Oliver and Emily's case, they bump into each other numerous times over a seven-year period, and whenever they do, sparks fly between them.
Because Kutcher (Guess Who) and Peet (Identity) make their characters seem so real, it’s easy to believe the strong connection Oliver and Emily develop while helping one another through some difficult times. As in all romantic comedies, chemistry between the stars is the key to a successful movie -- and the Kutcher/Peet combination definitely works in this regard. Their amusing banter, the way they look at each other every time they meet, and their obvious sadness at parting convinced me that Oliver and Emily belong together.
According to Cole, Kutcher and Peet clicked right away. “There was just something about them,” he recalls. “The way they made each other laugh, the way they seemed to understand one another on an instinctual level. . . they really embodied the connection between Oliver and Emily that makes them perfect romantic foils.”
Kutcher, who was already drawn to Colin Patrick Lynch’s timely screenplay, admits it was his audition with Peet that clinched the deal for him. “When she came in and read with me, it was like ‘Okay, now we have to do this,’” he says. “I found that Amanda has great comedic timing, but she’s also not afraid to be human, and that makes her wonderful as Emily.”
In commenting on the chemistry between herself and Kutcher, Peet explains, “Ashton and I naturally have this great sort of contentious repartee with one another. Of course, it’s hard for me to imagine how anyone could not fall in love with Ashton. I have to keep reminding myself that Emily isn’t that won over by him -- that she just doesn’t see him as fitting with who she is in life.”
To me, A Lot Like Love seems more like a romantic drama than a romantic comedy. (Kutcher and Peet gave more humorous performances in Just Married and The Whole Nine Yards, respectively.) I laughed out loud only two times during the entire film -- once when Kutcher hits all the wrong notes during a serenade to Peet and another when Oliver tries to explain his business (Diaperrush.com) to a group of potential investors. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy this movie. On the contrary, I found A Lot Like Love quite refreshing. In fact, I even agree with Peet’s observation that it’s “a When Harry Met Sally for this generation.”
Predictably, and fortunately for romance fans, Oliver and Emily eventually live happily ever after -- just like Harry and Sally.
(Released by Touchstone Pictures and rated “PG-13” for sexual content, nudity and language.)