A Lot Like Love (PG)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

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Review byMatthew Turner22/06/2005

OPENS FRIDAY 24th JUNE

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 107 mins

Engaging, smartly written, watchable romcom that tones down the comedy in favour of the romance and the drama; a “romdram”, if you will.

A Lot Like Love would dearly love to be a When Harry Met Sally for the noughties: there are several similarities in both the plot and the structure of the film. However, though it’s consistently watchable, smartly written and attractively played, it doesn’t quite deliver the goods on an emotional level, eventually resorting to some cheap emotional tricks that backfire quite badly.

The Story

Ashton Kutcher plays Oliver, a young man who meets Amanda Peet’s free-spirited Emily when she drags him into a toilet for some Hot Lovin’ during a flight from Los Angeles to New York.

They don’t exchange details but as luck and the forces of romcom contrivance would have it, they meet again by chance in New York. They establish a bond but decide not to get together for their own reasons: Oliver has a strict five-year plan that doesn’t allow him to settle down until after he’s made his fortune and Emily thinks she could probably do better.

Over the next seven years Oliver and Emily meet several times, with their relationship taking several different turns as their lives don’t quite pan out the way they expected. Will they belatedly realise that they’re meant to be together? No prizes for guessing…

The Acting

A film like this stands or falls on the chemistry of its romantic leads and luckily there’s a definite spark between Peet and Kutcher, in addition to them being – to steal from Zoolander – “really, really good-looking”.

However, in an attempt to downplay his trademarked Shouty Dimwit image (from That 70s Show and Dude, Where’s My Car?), Kutcher frequently comes across as being incredibly passive or subdued, to the point where you’re desperate for him to start yelling or clowning around. By contrast, Peet is rather adorable, though she should have taken a few more ‘Loveable Kook’ lessons from Meg Ryan.

The supporting cast are good, particularly Kathryn Hahn as Emily’s best friend and Taryn Manning as Oliver’s trashy sister, but the film completely wastes both Kal Penn (from Harold and Kumar Get the Munchies) and Jeremy Sisto (from Six Feet Under), both of whom deserve bigger and better parts than they’re given here.

The Script

For the most part, the script is sharply written and the characters are believably complex. The trailer mistakenly foregrounds the only two gags in the film (a reaction to Kutcher’s serenade and Peet walking into a glass door), so anyone going to the film expecting a comedy is going to be sorely disappointed.

However, there are several memorable moments and enjoyable scenes, particularly the sequence where they have dinner together without speaking to each other.

The Problems

The main problem is that the film rushes its conclusion and doesn’t really earn its happy ending. This is largely because of two nakedly manipulative tricks that the film plays on its audience – it would be unfair to give them away here, but you’ll spot them and you’ll more than likely resent the film for having resorted to them in the first place.

The Conclusion

That said, for the most part, the film is a cut above the usual rubbish, thanks to a smart script, some gorgeous photography and the chemistry between its two leads. Worth seeing but it’s no When Harry Met Sally.

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Content updated: 22/11/2017 14:52

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