The Cinephile’s Lament: When in Rome (2010)

Well, he managed it. The hostage somehow wriggled free of his restraints and escaped in the night. Sigh. I can’t say I didn’t expect it eventually; whatever else I could say about him, he’s not stupid. But K, you ask, shouldn’t you either be out looking for him, or preparing to flee the country from the police? Nah. I’ve thought this through. There’s only so far he’ll go before realizing there’s nothing anywhere close to this bunker; he’ll have to return, or succumb to a life of eating berries and sleeping in lean-tos (if he’s lucky). Besides that, this feels more like an act of rebellion than a genuine escape attempt; as I’ve previously said, I think he’s starting to enjoy this captive life. Once he feels he’s demonstrated how in control he is, he’ll be back for Cheetos and beer. The trap is laid.

So then, how to kill this time by myself? I don’t want to move forward with any of the films I have waiting for the hostage – I have chosen those very deliberately, and he can’t miss out on any of the fun. Despite the true joy I take in tormenting the hostage, there is one genre which we have largely avoided, because even my cruelty only extends so far: the romantic comedy.** Blech. Those words almost certainly guarantee an amount of suckage so large, you will question the existence of God. They can be cute and fun when done well, but therein lies the rub – they are almost never never never done well. For every Love Actually (2003), Easy A (2010), or The Wedding Singer (1998), there’s every other romantic comedy ever. I’m not sure if it’s a dismissive attitude towards female film-goers on the whole, or just laziness in an industry that continually rewards it, but hot damn, romantic comedies suck. We ladies are at least partly to blame; we keep going to see these terrible movies! But my theory is that so few films are targeted at women, that we pay for crap just to feel like we matter. I have the same theory for why the Madea film line is so popular with the black community… either that, or it’s a culture thing, and I am way too white.

Yet, when flying solo for an evening or two, I often find myself drawn to the idea of a romantic comedy. Even though I know, that I am certain that it will suck as well, there’s a tiny voice in the back of my head that is convinced that this one will be fun enough to justify 90 minutes. Or at least have one or two swoonworthy moments to satisfy the stupid romantic part of me, the part that gets so invested in TV couples that I get jealous for them (what the hell kind of name is Piz, anyway?!!). So it was with When in Rome (2010), which I was drawn to for no other reason that I adore Kristin Bell. I heart her so much. Veronica Mars (2004) is one of my favourite shows of all time, largely because Bell rocks so hard. If she would marry me, I would change teams. Even after I saw this movie, which is saying a lot.

Synopsis: A high-strung career-obsessed woman flies to Rome for her sister’s wedding. While there, she drunkenly steals five coins from a wishing fountain, and the five men who had tossed the coins originally fall in love with her and pursue her relentlessly.

What can I say about this movie? A long time ago, a little rabbit taught me that if I can’t say anything nice, I should keep my fat trap shut. So I’ll keep it brief: don’t see it. It was the exact same experience I had watching Simply Irresistable (1999), as at the time I had a similar love-on for Sarah Michelle Gellar because of Buffy (1997). I loved both women for the strong, kick-ass, smart-ass characters they played on television, and both took roles in the most mindless, fluffy, “magical” movies… and then duped me into seeing said movies by being so awesome on TV.

I don’t actually blame them. Who knows what roles they’re being offered, and I’m just happy to see Bell working. But dang, this is one stupid movie. Bell is charming and charismatic as ever, but her character and everything that happens is… just… stupid.

Hopefully the hostage finds his way back before dark; otherwise, he’s in for a cold, hungry evening. Until the next,


** This post only applies to modern romantic comedies. The genre was in excellent form in the 30s/40s.

~ by K. Harker on April 25, 2011.

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