When In Rome

Here is the premise of this ludicrous disaster of a rom-com: magic coins make men fall in love with Kristen Bell, because clearly such an ugly and unaccomplished person as Kristen Bell can only find dates if magical foreign spells intervene. Clearly. CLEARLY.

We open with unnecessary CGI in the form of coins being flipped into fountains. The magic coins get going right off the bat. Kristen Bell is basically like her character in Party Down, but nicer, less well-developed, and prone to embarrassing herself. She is throwing some sort of gala or something for a place that she works at that deals with art and showing art off and curating things, but it doesn’t appear to be a museum because everyone is fabulously wealthy (except I think it is a museum). At the event, she meets her ex-boyfriend, who apparently totally broke her heart, except this is a fact we can only guess at. She gets food stuck in her teeth and gets totally embarrassed because of course she does.

When she gets home from the horrible gala, she finds out her baby sister (that is how she is referred to) is getting married in like two days to a guy she met two weeks ago in Rome (I assume that it’s in Rome, because that’s the title of the movie). So Kristen Bell goes to Rome to see her sister get married, even though she is totally seething with jealousy, constantly asking herself, “Why isn’t it me?!” (In her mind – I am projecting character development here, because otherwise it doesn’t happen.) When she is in Rome, she doesn’t get any cell phone reception. How is she not getting reception in Rome? It is 2010 in the movie. I got reception in the middle of nowhere Poland in 2008, and Rome is a bit more on the map and technology has advanced a lot in two years.

Anyway, these characters are only defined by what others say about them, which makes the wedding totally moving (my bowels, har har! Thanks, Liz Lemon). One question: how did this wedding get planned so fast? There is no way a wedding that fancy got planned in less than two weeks. Maybe the husband was going to marry someone else and she ditched him? So he just found another bride so as not to lose the deposit for the venue? See what I mean about making up back story – if you don’t do it, the movie is just inexplicable. More embarrassing stuff happens to Kristen Bell, and she meets Josh Duhamel. At one point, an old woman gets hit in the face. Hey, filmmakers of this film: the funny part of seeing someone get hit in the face IS SEEING SOMEONE GET HIT IN THE FACE. It’s not so funny to just see their backs in the aftermath.

This whole wedding scene must have been set up as the comic heart of the movie. It’s hilarious when Americans mock local cultures! It’s also hilarious when foreign weddings always have some sort of folk dancing (What is up with that? American weddings are not characterized by square dancing people in Pilgrim costumes). Another hilarious thing ““ terrible fake accents. How charming. The whole time in Italy is treated with grace and class – by which I mean, with stereotypes and cheap jokes. Anyway, Kristen Bell was really hitting it off with Josh Duhamel, who reveals that he got struck by lightning while playing football for Syracuse. How moving! She grabs champagne to meet him outside, but finds him kissing another lady, so she gets drunk, sad, and into a fountain. She picks up coins at random because taking money from a fountain makes sense. She justifies it by explaining that she is saving these people from their wishes. So. That. I don’t even know. I guess that’s like the paternalistic government the Tea Partiers are so afraid of.

Back in New York City, Kristen Bell is commiserating with her friend at the art place. She says that we (ladies) wait our whole lives for some perfect guy to sweep us off our feet. KRISTEN BELL. LISTEN UP. We do not wait our whole lives for some perfect guy to sweep us off our feet. If you’re like me, you wait your whole life waiting for a publishing contract or a really, really good sandwich. Both at the same time would be like heaven.

All of a sudden, the men attached to the coins she stole from the fountain start hunting her down. Apparently, if you take someone’s coin from a fountain, they fall in love with you, stalk you, and make you feel threatened. This is according to Kristen Bell’s baby sister and her new husband who call her because they see her on the front page of a newspaper (apparently in Rome, blonde ladies in fountains make the front page). Also P.S., while they call her, they are, I shit you not, making pasta naked, because duh, that’s what Italians do!

So Kristen Bell is now getting harassed by a bunch of strange men because of a magic fountain. But one the of the men in Kristen Bell’s life is not a weirdo! It’s Josh Duhamel of kissing other ladies and getting struck by lightning fame! Kristen Bell is at first very upset with him for kissing other ladies, but then when he promises to give her a piece of never-before-seen amazing art for her show (never before seen because he is the subject of the photo and he is in anguish in it and I guess was able to make sure the artist never showed it anywhere),  she goes to dinner with him.

The dinner is cut short by Kristen Bell’s gaggle of weirdo stalkers, but somehow, even though the duo was tracked down to the restaurant, they can escape them and have a meaningful date during which Kristen Bell falls in love with Josh Duhamel. That was fast for someone with deep abandonment issues, which we know she has because she tells a long story about how Picasso kept abandoning his lovers. Hold up ““ Kristen Bell, you’re taking dating tips from Picasso’s love life? A notorious womanizer? Yes, perfect. Up next, a movie about a woman who learns moderation from Liberace!

After Josh Duhamel gets Kristen Bell to his apartment, he decides to show that he is also a Deep, Tortured Soul, so he shows her the picture of him in anguish (which is a crappy photo for something that’s the centerpiece of the big art show) and  starts talking about how all his football dreams were gone because he got hit by lightning on the field.  MOFO, YOU PLAYED FOR SYRACUSE. THEY ARE IN THE BIG (L)EAST. GREG PAULUS PLAYED FOR THEM.  What is reality? Why haven’t these writers ever encountered it??

Anyway, she finds a poker chip in Josh Duhamel’s apartment that looks like the poker chip she found in the fountain. Oh my god! Josh Duhamel is under a spell! She runs away because she knows that he is just under the fountain spell. Kristen Bell’s sister calls and tells her that to break the spell on the men, she has to give them back their coins. Kristen Bell is relieved and calls all the men together to give them back their coins. She tells them that what they’re feeling isn’t real and confesses that finally, finally! She found a man she loves more than she loves her job! How wonderful! I’m all for people loving people more than they love their work, but when a woman makes such a strong statement in a rom-com, well, let’s just say that bitches are getting put in their place! When she finishes confessing, she goes to give the men their coins back, but alas! Her friend stole them to prevent Kristen Bell from giving Josh Duhamel his poker chip back and breaking the magic fountain spell (how is this sentence a real thing I had to write? What is this movie?).

She tracks down the coins, but not before Josh Duhamel rushes the photo of him in anguish so that her big art show can be a success. She gives the coins back to all the men chasing her and the spell breaks for all of them. Thank God, she is down like four stalkers, so that’s good. Josh Duhamel picks up his poker chip from the ground – how it got there and why she was running, I don’t know. I had to drink a soda and this movie was awful and I couldn’t pay attention. Anyway, Josh Duhamel still loves Kristen Bell, so they decide to get married. This is great because they’ve been on one date, two if you count the wedding, and they were already able to help each other overcome significant relationship issues, even though Kristen Bell kept pushing Josh Duhamel away. This could be the most efficient relationship ever.

So they go to get married, and Kristen Bell finds out that Josh Duhamel picked up the wrong poker chip! Oh no! He is still under the spell! So she abandons him at the altar to throw his REAL poker chip into the fountain (another way to break the spell, by the way), but it turns out that he never threw a poker chip in the fountain, and he’s never been under a spell, and he’s just a Perfect Guyâ„¢ who can handle her abandoning him at every opportunity. All I’m saying is that they better not do a trust exercise together, because she will abandon him and he will fall flat on his back.

Anyway, they are together and happy and everyone is happy, and I am especially happy because this movie is OVER.

My rating: I fart in this movie’s general direction.

10 thoughts on “When In Rome”

  1. I’ve attempted to watch this a few times, because I love bad movies. But it was just too bad. I always got to the date scene, which I’m pretty sure that the Health Dept. would shut that restaurant down for several obvious reason. OR the part where Napoleon Dynamite gives her his heart. That was too weird for me.

  2. I’m so glad I read this. Netflix streaming keeps *insisting* that I’ll love this stupid movie, and I’ve been skeptical. Now I can click the “not interested” button with confidence and hope that some other crappy B movie will show up in its place.

  3. I know that this isn’t the most pressing of questions, but why does Veronica Mars have a jogging scene written into every movie she does? I mean, we could ask the bigger question of why Veronica Mars is wasting her time in these shitty rom-coms, but whatever. To each his own.

    But the jogging thing is getting really weird.

  4. I saw this movie two or three times because the cable channel at the hostel I was at in Vietnam had it on so many million times in the week I was there. Still don’t understand the logic of the stupid spell.

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