Directed by Mark Steven Johnson
Starring Kristen Bell, Josh Duhamel
Romantic comedies are a really tough genre of film for me. I want to like them, I want to like them. I want to feel that they are just delightful romps and two hours of escapism. On occasion I’m surprised and I feel just that. For example I didn’t want to like Forgetting Sarah Marshall but I ended up finding most of that film quite charming. Kristen Bell was in that film and she’s in this one so why not give it a shot.
Bell plays Beth an independent woman getting over a recent breakup. As luck would have it her younger sister is getting married in the romantic city Rome, as referenced in the title. While in Rome Beth meets a man that she likes but when she sees him with another woman she freaks and literally steals wishes from other people from what ends up being a magical fountain. As it turns out these wishes happen to have all belonged to American men that also all happen to live in New York. Ok that’s all a stretch but so is the fact that wishes can literally be taken from a magic fountain so if you are to give the movie a chance you have to sort of go with it. Things go a little too far back in New York though when these random men all fall in love with Beth and are able to find her everywhere she goes, even in the most random places. If you accept that then you’re probably hoping for some real laughs since the men that all fall for Beth are played by some funny actors such as Will Arnett, Danny DaVito, and John Heder. Unfortunately even with Bell’s charisma and the comedy heavyweights that are supposed to be obsessed with her the comedy just never comes.
The story is really poorly written in that there’s not much story there. Everything just so happens to occur at the right time in the right ways for the characters to evolve in that classic romcom way. There are no surprises at all and there aren’t any laughs either. Sadly the proceedings just feel mundane. When in Rome is brought to us by Mark Steven Johnson, the man responsible for Daredevil. Honestly daredevil wasn’t as bad as people made it out to be outside of the romantic scenes between Jennifer Garner and Ben Afleck. Johnson can’t do romance and he can’t do comedy so obviously When in Rome was not the movie for him.
When in Rome is only for the diehard Kristen Bell fan that has to see every film she does, otherwise even fans of romantic comedies should really give this one a pass.
For such a recent movie When in Rome really comes off inconsistent on the blu-ray. You’d expect most new films to come off quite well in HD but this one has lots of problems. One scene will feature gorgeous color and high detail and the next feels a little color shifted making skin tones come off a little sickly. There are also some scenes that almost feel as though they were shot through a thin layer of gauze giving them a sort of glamour shots effect. Black level is the only consistent thing about this film. Blacks are deep and dark and grain free. Overall this is surprisingly poor presentation.
The DTS HD Master audio track is about as mundane as the film itself. Dialogue, score and effects are mixed clean but there’s no immersive quality to the mix. In fact rear speakers get used very little throughout the film. This isn’t an action movie so there’s not much opportunity for whiz bang but there are many scenes where some nice ambient sounds and background noises could have been built into the mix making it more immersive but it just doesn’t happen. For HD surround this is really a bland mix but you can clearly hear everything.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The packaging consists of the standard slim blu-ray amaray case with passable artwork. Sensing a theme here? There’s just no innovation or attempting to raise the bar with the writing, the filmmaking, or the home video presentation.
There’s not a lot as far as extras go and what’s here isn’t great. There’s a gag reel, deleted scenes, and some music videos. On the plus side there are some blu-ray exclusives; Alternate Opening and Closing, a few more deleted scenes, and a brief featurette called Crazy Casanovas. Now these features aren’t good but the fact that there are blu-ray exclusives is a nice trend. There’s also a brief segment where cast members share the craziest things they’ve done for love.
There’s no real making of featurette or commentary. Every film should have at least that minimal amount of attention.
Sadly, When in Rome is just not a good film.
The Movie 2/10
The Video 5/10
The Audio 5/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 4/10
Overall (Not an Average) 3/10