Kristen Bell (Forgetting Sarah Marshall fame) plays Beth, an events curator at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, who is one year removed from her last relationship and in some serious need of lovin". Her little sister Joan, played by the ridiculously adorable Alexis Dziena, is going to marry her new boyfriend in Italy, and Beth"s presence is required regardless of her mad busy work schedule. So off to Italy she goes, leaving her snooty boss Celeste (Anjelica Huston) sneering and bitching.
While in Rome, Beth makes nice with best man Nick (Josh Duhamel), but a misunderstanding leaves her drunk and wading through a fountain, where she snatches up some coins. These coins represent the love hopes of five different men, and those five men will fall unconditionally in love with Beth because of some local fountain legend. Four of the men consist of a street magician (Jon Heder), a male model (Dax Shepard), a sausage king (Danny DeVito) and a struggling artist (Will Arnett). The fifth man is somewhat of a mystery, although Beth assumes its Nick.
Claiming to be a romantic comedy, the movie is not funny, there"s very little romance, and the screenplay by David Diamond and David Weissman is just a brainless mess of silly characters doing stupid things on camera. We"re supposed to fall in love with the beautiful Rome location shots. But they"re all filmed with an oversaturated lens, making them feel fake and forced. The vibrant glow of the late evening golden hour plays beautifully against the rustic Italian stonework.
But the overuse of the treatment brings too much attention to itself… especially when it"s utilized no matter what time of time of day it is. The film works best when Bell and leading man Josh Duhamel are on the screen together. Nick"s coin was one of the items Beth found in the fountain. There"s a wee bit of romantic spark between the two actors, but it"s difficult to tell when director Mark Steven Johnson insists on keeping the distraction level around them in maximum overdrive. The wacky side characters always manage to derail any chemistry the two are able to muster up.
There are exactly two somewhat amusing gags in When in Rome, which mostly takes place in New York. One involves a gimmick restaurant where patrons eat in total darkness (the hostess played by Kristen Schaal wearing night goggles and the other has the yellow clown car of the movie's poster taking an elevator. The rest of the film is a series of paralyzingly painful miscommunications and coincidences.
While the lead pair tries hard to impress, they are majorly let down by the direction and poor script.
Avoid this one!
Starring: Josh Duhamel, Kristen Bell, Danny DeVito, Alexis Dziena and Don Johnson
Director: Mark Steven Johnson