When in Rome (2010)
★ / ★★★★
Have you ever seen a movie in which you wanted it to end approximately ten minutes in? Kristen Bell stars as a curator who decided to go to Rome for her sister’s (Alexis Dziena) wedding despite the fact that she was married to her job. In Rome, she met a charming guy (Josh Duhamel) who was also the best man of her brother-in-law. However, the lead character caught him kissing another woman so she decided to go to a fountain to complain about how much she did not believe in love and steal a few coins. The owner of the coins (Will Arnett, Jon Heder, Dax Shepard, Danny DeVito) became desperately in love with her and followed her when she returned to America. The main problem with the movie was the fact that it just wasn’t funny. I quickly grew tired of it because there were too many clichés, too many slapsticks, and too many illogical reasoning. When the main character found out about the potential solution to all of her problems forty minutes into the picture, she found one excuse after another to not accomplish her goal. I simply did not believe that the decisions she made were true to her character because she started off as someone who accomplished what needed to get done in the most efficient way possible. Even though Bell and Duhamel were nice to look at and they did have some sort of chemistry, I did not really feel any sort of real tension between them and why they should ultimately get together in the end. Chances are, if one has seen the worst romantic comedies out there, one would know where “Where in Rome” was going. It offered no surprises and I got the impression that it didn’t even try to be funny, which was what bothered me most about it. I found myself trying to chuckle at some of the jokes but I couldn’t find myself to do so because the material was just not up to par. There was absolutely no confidence in the material; if it did, it would have tried to do something different with the characters or how the story unfolded. A twist within a twist would have been more than welcome because perhaps it would have been less soporific. Instead, I wished for the movie to shift its focus on Anjelica Houston’s character, the main character’s boss, because she had presence, as intimidating as she was, when she entered a room. Presence was exactly what the film needed and since it did not know what it was supposed to be, the project ended up being a mess.
★ / ★★★★
Written and directed by Mike Judge, this catastrophe of a movie tells the story of how an average man (Luke Wilson) and woman (Maya Rudolph), after agreeing to participate in a top secret government experiment, end up waking up in the future and finding themselves to be the smartest man and woman on the planet. It’s an interesting idea but it had an egregious execution; instead of telling an intelligent story about people with low IQs, it becomes another forgettable, stupid-funny movie full of slapstick and unnecessary gay jokes. Don’t even get me started on how most people below the IQ of 25 could still function like a normal being (walking, talking, et cetera) without taking into account the sensitive issue of people who are severely mentally retarded. To me, this is a one-joke movie that did not deserve a green light from the studios. At first I could tolerate it when the film tried to point out how stupid society already is in year 2005. But when the movie fast-forwarded five hundred years later, it still had the same jokes but more obvious and unfunny. Good actors like Wilson, Dax Shepard and Justin Long were left with nothing to do except make themselves sound like college students smoking weed. If this was meant to be a commentary about the younger generation’s apathy to anything remotely intellectual due to the recent popularity of certain types of music, lifestyles, technologies, and brands, it just doesn’t work because it failed to show the positive sides of those elements. If one is to make a successful farce out of something, one should not present it one-dimensionally. And it’s not like it tried either. This film is nothing but one-dimensional and I found myself feeling upset while watching it. I might’ve lost a few brain cells while watching this garbage so I insist that you avoid this movie at all cost.
★ / ★★★★
This movie’s greatest weakness is its writing and it is ultimately its downfall. Diane Keaton stars as an overbearing mother who moves into her son and daughter-in-law’s (Dax Shepard and Liv Tyler) house because she’s having marriage problems with her husband (Ken Howard). If her annoyances are not enough, an awkward writer who’s a friend of Liv Tyler’s character (Mike White) moves in with them to work on his potential science fiction/war movie script. With the exception of Tyler, I found everyone to be really annoying. I feel like the characters are more like caricatures of people with extreme personality problems instead of actual complex people with good qualities and bad qualities. Keaton tends to overact and I felt her desperation to be funny in every frame. It was painful to watch in the least. Shepard is also very unfunny; in fact, his character is pretty unkind to his mother even before she moved into the house. If I was in his shoes, even I would try to hear out my histrionic mother’s problems. Shepard’s character needed more heart and his frustrations in his own marriage and jobs are not enough of an excuse to warrrant his behavior. I also didn’t like the fact that Vince Di Meglio, the director, was too obvious in regards to telling his audiences what’s funny and what’s not funny. What I noticed was, most of the time, when something funny was happening, a character would scream or yell. Someone always has to be the butt of the joke and it’s utterly unappealing to me. The movie even resulted to two characters trading remarks at a funeral. It’s supposed to be funny but it’s ultimately not because it’s just plain pathetic. That funeral scene cements how immature and self-centered the characters are. This is another one of those bad comedies that you try to forget but cannot quite get there because of how demeaning it was for the actors who are usually pretty entertaining.