04 February 2010

Review: "When in Rome"

Ah, Veronica Mars. Is there a better reason to see a film than to see the enchanting Kristen Bell on screen? I am a die-hard fan of the television show Veronica Mars, and it is the reason I started watching Gossip Girl, and even my new favourite show, Big Love (which features two of Veronica Mars' best friends!). Granted, When in Rome is a romantic comedy and that is not exactly my favourite genre. But Kristen Bell is too adorable. The film is directed by Mark Steven Johnson, whose two previous directing efforts were overdone action films (Daredevil and Ghost Rider), though his first screenwriting credit was Grumpy Old Men. Starring alongside Veronica Mars (yes, that is her real name in my opinion) is Josh Duhamel, who is best known as being Fergie's husband (which is better than being that dude from Transformers). The film costars quite a few talented actors (Anjelica Huston, Danny DeVito and Will Arnett) whose considerable talents are unable to save When in Rome from relying too heavily on cliches.

Veronica Mars has matured, she is now Beth Harper, a young curator at New York's Guggenheim Museum. She has given up on love and her younger sister's (Alexis Dziena) impulsive wedding in Italy only adds to her frustration. In Rome she meets Nick (Josh Duhamel), the best man at the wedding, and while she is attracted to him she mistakenly believes that he is there with another woman. This leads Beth to climb into the fountain of love and rescue coins. It is a magic fountain and when Beth returns to New York all the men whose coins she took have fallen madly in love with her. She is harassed by a magician (Napoleon Dynamite's Jon Heder), a struggling artist (Will Arnett), a self-obsessed model (Dax Shepard, recently engaged to Kristen Bell). Her relationship with Nick grows but she finds reason to believe that he is also under a spell and struggles to juggle her job and the relationship.

The film is very straightforward with very few surprises. When in Rome is only saved from being complete trash by Kristen Bell's presence on screen. She is beautiful and charming, and while the film itself is not worth of her talent, she does her best to keep you entertained. The film is too long and much of the dialogue is contrived. The film is as formulaic as they come with a predictable script and weak direction. Kristen Bell has a bright future, but she will quickly become forgotten if she keeps picking this kind of film. I would love to see her go back to television and find a role on a quirky series (like Nurse Jackie) that would allow her to grow as an actress.

My rating: 1.5 stars out of 4.

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