Every so often, there’s a movie that comes out that completely re-defines a tired and trite genre. Kristen Bell’s latest movie to hit blu ray and DVD, When in Rome is far from one of those movies. It has the tired back stories and the over-the-top slapstick style humor that one should expect after watching the trailer. However, sometimes, that’s not such a bad thing. It’s kind of nice to know what to expect every so often, not down to every last joke, but then again, let’s look at the genre we’re talking about? There hasn’t been a whole lot of new stuff to come out in the way of the romantic comedy for some time.
When in Rome shouldn’t be written off as every other rom com though. It has one secret weapon that’s enough to forgive its use of cliches and that is, Kristen Bell herself. Let’s be real though, as lovely and charming as Bell may be, sometimes it’s hard to get behind her choices. I mean, I’m no Hollywood agent, but even I could have predicted Pulse ending badly for her. Still, Kristen Bell’s charm, even as a lovelorn cynic in When in Rome, is winning to say the very least. Her comedic timing is strong enough to guide the movie through some bumpy areas, but in the end, she makes When in Rome an enjoyable escape.
However, when it comes to the rest of the cast, it really is problematic. I mean, sure her charm and comedic timing provide a nice distraction, but she doesn’t have the strength to carry the whole movie through four creepy suitors.Dax Shepard, Danny DeVito, and Will Arnett should all be a little disappointed in themselves. Note: I leave Jon Heder off the list because he should pretty much always be ashamed of himself. The former three that are mentioned are talented comedic actors. Well, they are in at least in one movie or a TV show. That being said, the appeal of the movie isn’t hard to understand. It truly is a solid idea, but the issue is, well, it lends itself to a creepy nature. It could easily be done tastefully with moments of over-the-top humor, but something just doesn’t translate when When in Rome starts. It was like they were trying to push the comedy as far as they could but wound up just on the other side of creepy. Once again, this is reserved specifically for Dax Shepard, Danny DeVito, and Will Arnett. Jon Heder’s “contribution” is forced and unfunny and constantly creepy. Honestly, the movie would have been much more enjoyable without him or his character, but it’s unfair to blame all the movie’s problems on him. There are certainly problems with When in Rome such as its foray into creepy territory and its moments of “magic”, which wreak of lazy screenwriting and force the viewer out of the moment.
In the end, the saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” best sums up this movie. It adds nothing new to the rom com genre, but seems happy to play along as the others do. Luckily, Kristen Bell’s charisma elevates this movie into the rent-worthy category instead of pure miss-ability. It’s an enjoyable, if not flawed, escape but don’t expect a miracle.