You know a film is hard to promote when the only thing they can slap on the cover is “From the studio that brought you The Proposal.” It’s an entirely honest sentiment of course, but it’s not as if the studio has a 100% perfect track record when it comes to releasing films, although it’s probably one of Disney’s better off-shoots (or purchased off-shoots, however Touchstone came to be theirs I don’t know). In any case When in Rome was never really made up to be anything more than the terribly cliché and predictable romantic comedy that it was—not that it did too poorly at the box office, as despite a overwhelmingly negative critical response it pulled in nearly $40 million worldwide.
An ambitious young New Yorker (Kristen Bell), disillusioned with romance, takes a whirlwind trip to Rome where she defiantly plucks magic coins from a fountain of love, inexplicably igniting the passion of those who threw them in: a sausage magnate (Danny DeVito), a street magician (John Heder), an adoring painter (Will Arnet) and a self-admiring model (Dax Shepard). But when a charming reporter (Josh Duhamel) pursues her with equal zest, how will she know if his love is the real thing?
It sucks that I was really so disinterested in this film because it’s such a nice collection of talent. Bell has been bobbing her way around Holywood with a streak of romantic comedies of late and it doesn’t look like she’s going to stop with them anytime soon, but it’s the remainder of the cast that made me wish it was worth watching. Between DeVito and Arnett you have enough comedy talent there to power an entire film, yet they’re sorely underutilized here; Shepard gets a bit more screen time and while I don’t necessarily dislike the man (aside from the fact that he’s apparently engaged to Bell now) I just tend to lean towards Frank Reynolds and Gob Bluth a bit more.
Anyway, as far as the film goes the whole coins making for spellbound lovers thing was funny for about half an hour but then I just wanted it to be over with. This is a terrible feeling, again, because of the actors involved here—usually actors can even make a bad premise slightly tolerable but there was just no redeeming quality from anything in this film. Anytime it took an upswing was due to some kind of romantic comedy staple; I mean who didn’t see the ending to the film happening from the trailer alone? So with it being as predictable as it was I had hoped it would’ve tried out a few new things but…nope, whatever. It’s the same old story, time and time again.
And..really, what more can you say? There’s a happy ending to the film, Bell gets her man and everyone lives happily ever after. There were a few moderate laughs to be had in the film to be sure, but it’s just an overwhelmingly redundant storyline. I know all romantic comedies share similar storylines and it’s hard to deviate from such a winning formula as “people meet, are happy, some incident is inserted to break them up and then they get back together in the end” but I really wish they would. Of course Bell was already in a film like that (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, although that was a more male-centric romantic comedy), but it’s not her I’m sick of—its these cookie cutter plots that dominate the genre.
In any case if you enjoy the genre then this is another static entry into it. You may laugh and cry or you may find it horribly generic—it depends on how stringent your tastes are. In the end it’s a film that’s a strict Rental and nothing more.
Buena Vista pushes out When in Rome in a single-disc Blu-ray release with a cardboard slipcover and…well, that’s it. Some inserts inside and a re-use of the films theatrical poster (with Bell looking as cute as always) and that’s about it here—they definitely didn’t go all out or anything for this one.
Video is a moderately enjoyable transfer for the film, which is the usual brightly lit romantic comedy style. There’s no real presence of film grain, nor is there an overabundance of detail; it’s not waxy looking either so I’m inclined to think this film was made to look as dull as the script read, because there really aren’t any indications that this film ever looked any better than it does here. Audio, a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix, is similarly “meh” with a surround mix that rarely penetrates the surrounds or causes the LFE to blink its activity light. It’s a very predictable and merely “ok” transfer for the film. Nothing spectacular to see or hear here.
Extras? Hah! Well ok there are a few:
• Kerplunk! Bloopers From Rome – See the cast’s bloopers & blunders on the set of the film.
• Deleted Scenes
• Music Videos – “Starstrukk” by 3OH3! Featuring Katy Perry RT and “Stupid Love Letter” by Friday Night Boys RT
• Alternate Opening & Ending
• Crazy Casanovas: Mischief From The Set – We meet our hilarious cast and crew that brought this film to life.
• Extended Scenes: Pain With The Suitors
• Additional Deleted Scenes
“But,” you may remark, “that’s a pretty long list!” I will give you that—it’s definitely a long list. However it’s barely over a half-hours worth of content to shift through which includes an absolutely moronic alternate intro/ending…I’m not sure if I would’ve hated the film more or less if they’d gone with them, but luckily I’ll never have to find out because I never have to watch this one again!
Overall a release that you can thoroughly and safely Skip.
When in Rome arrives on Blu-ray and DVD on June 15th.