Five Coins from a Fountain
To be exact, Kristen Bell’s character steals four coins and a poker chip from a fountain of love during her sister’s wedding festivities in When in Rome. Talk about tempting fate! As a result, the guys who threw those items into the fountain become obsessed with her. Is Nick, portrayed by Josh Duhamel, one of them -- or does he truly love her? That’s an important question, because Beth, our heroine, definitely develops a lovin’ feeling for Nick, the groom’s Best Man. Although this is a cute idea for a romantic comedy, over-the-top performances by some of the actors -- plus the movie’s frantic pace -- undermine the film’s entertainment potential.
Still, Bell (Couples Retreat) and Duhamel (Win a Date with Tad Hamilton) make an appealing romantic couple here. The minute they appear together on screen, chemistry pops between them. The huge difference in their heights gives their pairing an amusing look, and these photogenic co-stars capture the eccentricities of the characters they portray. Beth is a workaholic with no success where romance is concerned, and Bell projects the right combination of intelligence and vulnerability needed for this role. Nick is a little like Inspector Clouseau in terms of clumsiness -- and Duhamel nails that aspect of his behavior. I smiled every time he nonchalantly uttered, “Didn’t see that coming,” after Nick’s many accidents. Despite the frenzied nature of their relationship, I really wanted Beth and Nick to “live happily ever after.”
Much of the frenzy comes from the actions of Beth’s newfound suitors who follow her back to New York City, where she’s an assistant curator at the Guggenheim Museum and under considerable stress related to an important upcoming installation. Antonio (Will Arnett) wants to paint Beth’s image on everything he sees; Lance (Jon Heder) performs magic tricks for her in the strangest places; Gale (Dax Shepard) displays his model-like beauty (!) to her every chance he gets; and an entrepreneur (Danny DeVito) showers her with meaty gifts. Unfortunately, DeVito delivers the only believable performance of this group, probably because the others were more interested in comic effect than in acting. However, to be fair, their scenes appear rushed rather than well-thought out, and I did enjoy seeing all cast members dance together as the end credits rolled.
My husband thinks we have a tendency to expect more from a movie with “Rome” in the title. He might be right. So, dear reader, try not to watch When in Rome with Roman Holiday on your mind.
(Released by Touchstone Pictures and Rated “PG-13” for some suggestive content.)
For more information about When in Rome, go to the Internet Movie Data Base or Rotten Tomatoes website.