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When in Rome(2010)
Disillusioned with romance, an ambitious New Yorker travels to Rome, where she plucks magic coins from a special fountain. The coins attract an assortment of odd suitors, including a sausage merchant, a street magician and an artist. But, when a persistent reporter throws his hat in the ring, she wonders if his love is the real thing.
For more about When in Rome and the When in Rome Blu-ray release, see When in Rome Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on June 9, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.0 out of 5.
Director: Mark Steven Johnson
Writers: David Diamond, David Weissman
Starring: Kristen Bell, Josh Duhamel, Anjelica Huston, Will Arnett, Jon Heder, Dax Shepard
» See full cast & crew
When in Rome Blu-ray Review
This Roman Holiday feels more like work.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, June 9, 2010
It's that time again. Time, yes, for another installment of Trash That Terrible Rom-Com! I'm your host, Casey Broadwater, and today's piece of lovelorn schlock is…drumroll please… When in Rome! Our unlucky contestants are Kristen Bell and Josh Duhamel. She's the chirpy former star of much-missed TV series Veronica Mars, and he's an erstwhile male model, not to mention the titular character of a film that's previously been on our program—yes, the terrible Win A Date With Tad Hamilton! A round of applause, please, for how awkward they look together! Now, folks, if you're joining us for the first time, Trash That Terrible Rom- Com is a depressing, fruitless game invented by film critics who would much rather write three word reviews, written in all-caps, that read, "SKIP THIS DRIVEL." It goes a little something like this: critics get paid to write about films, so they can't take Thumper's advice and "not say anything at all" if a movie is terrible. They've got to, yes, that's right, trash it! Now, some critics enjoy this, but for most—who would rather be watching and writing about good films—it's a total chore. How do rom-coms factor into this game, you ask? Well, studies show that eight out of every ten rom-coms are statistically proven to be terrible. Hence, Trash That Terrible Rom- Com! With the rules out of the way, it's time for round one: What This Movie Is About And Why You Almost Certainly Won't Care.
Okay, I'll drop the game show shtick. The truth is, When in Rome isn't the worst rom-com I've suffered through this year. (That dubious honor has to go to the truly dreadful All About Steve, with its Razzie Award-winning performance by Sandra Bullock.) At best, however, it's a merely mediocre entry into a genre overrun with mediocrity, and I take no pleasure in trashing it. At its worst, it shows just how stale the rom-com, in general, has become. Our loveless shmuck of the week is Beth (Kristen Bell), a Guggenheim "curator"—what she really does is more akin to party planning—who can't find time in her workaholic schedule for romance. Her boss (Angelica Houston) is breathing down her neck about finding a centerpiece for the museum's upcoming show on "anguish," her three stock stereotype friends—the fat one, the gay one, the "kooky" one— watch her love failings with the rapt attention of soap opera devotees, and to make matters worse, her kid sister is getting married—in Rome—to a sexy Italian she's only known for two weeks. "When in Rome" for the wedding, Beth hits it off with groomsman Nicholas (Josh Duhamel), a suave sportswriter and former football player. (Former because, I kid you not, his career was cut short when he was struck by lightening during a game.) But oh no! Out in the piazza, next to the "fountain of love," she spies Nick in the arms of another woman. Foiled again!
So, what does she do? She chugs a bottle of wine, kicks off her heels, and starts picking coinage out of the fountain, unaware that this invokes a spell that makes the throwers of the coins fall madly (and obsessively) in love with her. This isn't a bad premise for a magical, screwball love comedy—I'll admit, it could've worked—but the execution is off. Flitting between hokey physical humor, stillborn attempts at wit, and saccharine displays of emotion, the film has trouble striking a consistent tone. Not that a film necessarily needs to be tonally consistent; its just that When in Rome is too broad for its own good. Consequently, the "rom" fizzles out, the "com" falls all too frequently flat, and the film squanders its cast of (mostly) talented comedians. The central gimmick of the movie—random guys falling inexplicably in love with Beth—is jerry rigged to add comedy and conflict to the story, but it doesn't deliver either, making her four spell-struck suitors seem more like filler than anything. Will Arnett is a wannabe artist who paints a mural of Beth in the nude on the side of a New York City building, Dax Shepard plays a self-absorbed male model, prone to taking off his shirt, Napoleon Dynamite's Jon Heder apes David Blaine and Criss "Mindfreak" Angel as a goofy-ass street magician, and Danny DeVito is a sausage magnate, who tells Beth, "encased meat is my life's work." Don't even get me started on the massively fortunate coincidence that all four coin-throwers just happen to live in NYC, so they can stalk Beth with ease.
Of course, it wouldn't be a rom-com if Beth didn't end up with Nick, embracing passionately in the "fountain of love," but the romantic drama that gets us to that point—the miscommunications, doubts, and general emotional stupidity—never rings true. Without spoiling anything, the whole predicament between the two—whether or not Nick tossed one of the coins that Beth plucked—is predicated on a misunderstanding that, when finally revealed, is more likely to induce rolling eyes than swooning hearts. By the end, Beth learns some Valuable Life Lessons, like "If I take his love against his will, it's not love at all," and "The passion is in the risk." The two leads are just as bland as the sentiments they espouse, but I've got to give them credit for at least giving it their all, despite a hackneyed script by David Diamond and David Wiessman—the team that brought us Old Dogs—and the uninspired direction of Ghost Rider helmer Mark Steven Johnson. Bell is game for anything—having food stuck to her teeth, riding around in a tiny European clown car—and Duhamel does his best as the Attractive All-American Everyman. It's not enough to make us care, though, and what little chemistry that develops between them evaporates quickly when the film goes for cheap laughs instead of comedy that rises inherently from the characters' lives.
When in Rome Blu-ray, Video Quality
When in Rome sports a 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer that does a good job reproducing the flat, lifeless, overly bright cinematography that's come to be associated with the rom-com genre. Even though the film was shot on 35mm, there's nothing particularly filmic about this transfer, which is slick and largely grain-less. Textures do look a little soft, but there's not much of the waxy, smeary quality you normally associate with overzealous digital noise reduction. Otherwise, clarity is decent and the print is pristine. It's clear that some color tweaking has been done in post-production—there's a strange glow to the highlights, the white balance looks artificially warm, and skin tones have a yellowish cast—so if you're looking for a film with a very natural look, this isn't it. Still, black levels are solid, contrast is strong, and there really aren't any distracting compression issues. Basically, if you've ever seen a rom-com before, you know exactly how When in Rome is going to look.
When in Rome Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Likewise, When in Rome sticks to the understandable rom-com convention of having a rather uninvolving, front-centric, conversation-driven soundtrack. And while the film's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround mix may lack immersion, it at least sounds clear, balanced, and detailed, with perfectly prioritized dialogue. Christopher Young's score is typical of the genre—dippy, in a word—but it's dynamically sound and usually fills up all the channels. And you will occasionally hear some effects and ambience in the rears—rippling thunder, a clown-car zipping cross-channel, chatter at the Guggenheim, etc. Otherwise, there's not much to say about this perfectly serviceable but ultimately unremarkable track. It does what it needs to do, which is, not very much.
When in Rome Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Alternate Opening & Ending (1080p, 7:17)
Wow, just wow. All I can say is that I'm glad they didn't go with these, which are somehow even more idiotic than the scenarios that bookend the final cut of the film.
Crazy Casanovas: Mischief From the Set (1080p, 12:28)
"The great thing about this movie, is that it's a magic movie, which gives you a license to go crazy," says the director, who, I think all of us who have seen the film can agree, should be removed from the magician's alliance. Here, we get 12 minutes of cast interviews and on-set shenanigans.
Extended Pain with The Suitors (1080p, 2:39)
Three deleted scenes of the suitors crashing the party at the Guggenheim.
Kerplunk!: Bloopers From Rome (1080p, 3:07)
Kerplunk is also the sound this film makes when it splashes into the cinematic toilet bowl.
Deleted Scenes (1080p, 7:45)
Or, as the disc's menu describes them, "A series of fun moments that didn't make the final cut." Includes eight scenes.
Includes "Starstrukk" by 30H!3 (yes, that is their name, apparently), featuring Katy Perry all wet in a fountain, and "Stupid Love Letter" by Friday Night Boys.
What's the Craziest Thing You've Done For Love? (1080p, 1:11)
Several of the cast members reveal, yes, the craziest thing they've ever done for love.
Sneak Peaks (1080p, 6:47)
Includes promos for Alice in Wonderland, ESPN World Cup 2010, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, and Lost: The Final Season.
When in Rome Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Well, that's it for another episode of Trash That Terrible Rom-Com! Today, we learned in 1,500 choice words what I wish I could've summed up in three: "Skip this film." For being such wonderful members of our internet audience, we're giving each of you the opportunity to buy this terrible rom- com from a retailer of your choosing! Of course, as I hope we've already made painfully clear, you really aren't going to want to. That's all for today, so tune in next week for another decidedly not thrilling episode of—say it with me now—Trash That Terrible Rom-Com!
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When in Rome Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Disney Offering $10 Coupon for When in Rome Blu-ray - June 15, 2010
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has a printable $10 off coupon good for the purchase of the When in Rome Blu-ray during its first week in stores. To print it, go to the dedicated coupon website and click on the appropriate tab on the upper-right corner. ...
• When in Rome Announced on Blu-ray - March 30, 2010
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has announced that it will release When in Rome on June 15. Unlike other Disney releases, this BD release will not come with a DVD or digital copy of the movie. This romantic comedy stars Kristen Bell as a young New Yorker ...
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