a lot like love (3/10)

by Tony Medley

A lot like love is a lot like “When Harry Met Sally” (1989) and a little like “The Graduate” (1969) but without Mike Nichols and Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft and Simon & Garfunkel and Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan and Rob Reiner and Nora Ephron. To put it shorter, without the humor and talent of either. I guess the word these days in Hollywood is if you can’t be original, be derivative and immoral because that’s what this is. Secular Hollywood has finally gotten around to substituting full blown sex for a lover’s kiss and it’s not funny or appealing. Despite another good performance by Ashton Kutcher, the last 45 minutes are excruciating.

How derivative is it? Kutcher tells a joke about a cat that’s been floating around the Internet for at least two years (the joke, not the cat). And the way he tells it isn’t even remotely as funny as what’s on the ‘net.

Emily (Amanda Peet) has the morals of a rabbit. She attacks Oliver (Kutcher) in the rest room of an airplane in another scene stolen from another movie, this time “Rich and Famous” (1981). Actually the first 20 minutes or so of this film are pretty good, mainly because of Kutcher’s acting. This guy has a deft comedic touch. I just wish he’d learn how to choose his scripts, although, to give him credit, I haven’t seen many good scripts come out of Hollywood recently.

Contrasting with Kutcher’s performance is Peet, who is clearly in over her head here. It’s difficult to judge someone when the script (Colin Patrick Lynch) and directing (Nigel Cole) are not up to snuff, but Peet was not the right person for this role. I thought she was physically unattractive but it’s unfair the judge the rest of her performance because it could be the result of the terrible script or poor directing.

Oliver meets Emily on the aforementioned plane and the rest of the film is about their on-again, off-again relationship a la the aforementioned “Harry-Sally.” Unfortunately there’s not the chemistry that Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan generated throughout that movie. This ending is kind of stolen from “The Graduate,” but with a twist that is so predictable it couldn’t have been funny even if it were funny, which it isn’t.

April 22, 2005