When in Rome (1/10)
by Tony Medley
Run time 91 minutes.
OK for children.
I first saw “Three Coins in
the Fountain” at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood. There was a replica
of Trevi Fountain (the fountain in Rome into which the three coins were
thrown) in the lobby. It was a charming, entertaining film. So I was
looking forward to this, thinking it would be similar.
However, it would be hard
to concoct a more inane movie than this. I didn’t know much about it
until I got to the screening. Even though I was looking forward to it,
when I read the Notes and I saw that it was directed by Mark Steven
Johnson, who was responsible for “Daredevil” (2003), a groaner if ever
there was one, my expectations dove.
They continued to plummet
after the opening titles. Low as is my opinion of Johnson, I can’t think
of a director who could bring life to this bereft script (David Diamond
& David Weissman).
Actually, they were working
with a story that had possibilities. A job-oriented woman, Beth (Kristen
Bell), who has just been dumped by her boyfriend (confirmed in a scene
that defies credulity), goes to Rome for the marriage of her younger
sister, Joan (Alexis Dziena). There she meets a guy, Nick (Josh
Duhamel), she likes. But he disappoints her as a result of a
misunderstanding. She jumps in and disdainfully plucks magic coins from
a fountain of love, thrown by four hopeful lovers, in the words of
“Three Coins in the Fountain.” When she takes the coins out of the
fountain, it supernaturally ignites the passions of those who threw them
in, all of them unattractive: a sausage magnate, Al (Danny Devito), a
street magician, Lance (Jon Heder), a painter, Antonio (Will Arnett),
and a narcissistic
model, Gale (Dax Shepard). Meanwhile, Nick pursues her, too.
This could have been gold
in the hands of someone like Leo McCarey and a competent cast. But
Johnson and his scriptwriters completely drop the ball, and the cast
screams lack of talent. There are so many annoying things about this
movie it’s hard to single them out.
The script is so moronic
that it is difficult to rate actors who have to mouth the blather and
act out the contrived scenes. Even so, some are grating on their own,
regardless of what they are saying. Suffice it to say that the majority
of the actors, especially Bobby Moynihan (from Saturday Night Live), who
plays Puck, one of Nick’s friends, and Dziena, are so irritating they
could seamlessly fit into the worst chick flick. Bell is particularly
unsympathetic. The script is grating, to be sure, but Bell adds nothing
that would make one empathetic with her.
The four guys pursuing Beth
do the best with what they are given. If any of them stands out, it’s Heder. All four are supposed to disagreeable, and they are. Beth and
Joan, on the other hand, aren’t supposed to be disagreeable, but they are.
There are only two
redeeming virtues in this thing. The shots of Rome are pretty good, like
a travelogue. But Johnson even screws this up. Apparently intent on
showing the Vatican, he has a cab drive Beth to her hotel through St.
Peter’s Square. There is no hotel in Rome that would have a route
through the Vatican to get there, unless you were starting at the
Vatican which Beth wasn’t.
Alone among the cast,
Duhamel overcame the drivel. He’s not in that many scenes, as it’s a
story about Beth, but if the film has any bright spot, it’s Josh.
January 28, 2010