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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

When in Rome (review)

Real Romance, for Real People: Really!

Oh! The sublimity! Oh! The wit! Oh! The romance!

When in Rome? Hello, *sigh*! Enough of those “smart” romantic comedies that force down our throats the preposterous notions that women can be competent at work — sorta — without being idiots at everything else, or that men can ever be adults, or that humiliating old ladies and priests isn’t hilarious.
I think we all get it, us “career gals.” We know we’re fooling ourselves. We know that we cannot ever truly be happy merely “working” — I mean, duh! We need a man to make us happy. (And then we don’t have to work anymore!) And not just any man! Not a loser dude. Not some weird geeky guy. I mean, duh! The right guy is always conventionally handsome and kinda bland — that’s just what women like, okay? Deal with it, dorks! All the other guys — the one who are too short or strange looking or who actually have “interests” — are just absolutely unacceptable. When in Rome knows this truth!

Oh, Kristen Bell, you are my new hero! It’s so true that your little sister Alexis Dziena’s wedding to a guy she met two weeks ago is the height of real romance, and a slap in your professional-museum-curator-no-boyfriend-having gal face! LOL! You know what’s even more awesome, don’t you? The fact that Alexis Dziena is marrying a guy she met two weeks ago means she had less than two weeks to plan a perfect wedding in Rome. I bet it took you longer than that to pull off the museum event with the cars hanging from the roof of the Guggenheim! And you totally screw up the new event about “Pain” art that you’re planning all through this film. Your stupid assistant is too stupid to do things right, and screws the pooch while you’re in Rome for your sister’s wedding. Or else you didn’t tell your assistant what to do right. You suck! But so do all us girls, really. Where o where is the man you can love more than your work? (Which sucks, too, because your boss sucks. They don’t tell us whether the Anjelica Huston bitch-boss has a man, but I bet she doesn’t!)

But — ha ha! — Josh Duhamel will save you! That’s so how it is: we girls really do need men to save our asses. Even better if they’re cute and kinda boring like Duhamel’s character in this movie! I mean, what, he works as a sports reporter or something? But what does he really do? Besides have a Star Wars-loving dork as a best friend? No one knows! But it doesn’t matter! Because he’s cute!

Oh, and he’s nothing like the other guys who are chasing you. The other guys who all happen to be from New York, your hometown, even though you fished their wishing-for-luck coins out of a magic fountain in Rome, and so now they’re magically all in love with you, or whatever! LOL! It’s funny cuz it’s true, that a gal has to put up with so many losers! Like Danny DeVito and Dax Shephard and Will Arnett and Napoleon Dynamite. Hello, dorksville!

It’s sort of totally cool how Kristen doesn’t call the cops when Will Arnett is chasing her through Central Park or Napoleon Dynamite breaks into her apartment. Because we girls know that stalking really is how men show their affection! (Though, c’mon, Kristen: some cops are really cute, and you could meet a nice guy that way!) Stalking is charming! And so is when Josh Duhamel walks into trees and stuff. Why shouldn’t the hero walk into random objects or fall down random holes in the sidewalk for no reason? It makes him human! Or something.

It’s also pretty cool how Josh says that Kristen is smart and funny, even though he hasn’t really seen her be smart or funny, only stupid and clumsy and a self-centered workaholic. Because we know that “she’s smart and funny” is just guy-code for “she’s bland and hot but I don’t want to sound shallow.”

But — haha! — “I’m in love with him” is just girl-code for “he’s bland and hot but I don’t want to sound shallow.” That’s real romance: everyone involved is hot but not too complicated, and doesn’t really know each other, but just is terrified of being alone. And so what if it takes a movie full of Olympic-level coincidence and forced jollity to make that point. We girls should know what we’re in for when it comes to romance. It’s not pretty, it’s not fun — not really — but it’s better than being alone with our work. Geez.


MPAA: rated PG-13 for some suggestive content

viewed at a public multiplex screening

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine
  • LaSargenta

    …uh…sorry, I have to get back to my work.

  • Cyndy

    I love your snarky side. That was really fun to read. Thanks.

  • aleks

    Of course I won’t see WIR but I’m glad they made it so I could read that review!

  • Keith

    I guess Maryann’s feelings of revolt wore off enough for her mind to start working again and write a review that I’ll bet is more witty than the movie itself. Yep, love to read Maryann in full snark mode.

  • CB

    I feel kinda bad for her for having to watch that schlock, though, as all that snark and sarcasm can’t truly relieve the pain.

    As I know all too well. :(

  • Paul

    Who needs her to take a coin out of a wishing well to fall in love with her? That took me about one episode of Veronica Mars.

  • Emmanuel Reyes

    hello i know that u have no time for this but theres a song almost at the end of the movie but isnt in the soundtrack it is a slow/sad song and theres a woman singing like louis armstrong and i need that song it makes my girlfriend cries by its beautiful melody and i really wants it please let me know if u can help thanks a lot

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