April 24, 2005

MOVIES: A Lot Like Love (Nigel Cole, 2005)

Two Ashton Kutcher movies in three weeks; you'd think I were a 14-year-old girl.

It's another romantic comedy, this time with Amanda Peet, and we follow the relationship of Oliver and Emily over seven years.

The challenge with this sort of romantic comedy is finding a plausible way to keep the central couple apart until the very end. They want to be together, and we want them to be together, and the obstacle has to be plausible but not insurmountable.

In A Lot Like Love, the only obstacle appears to be that both characters are idiots. They certainly know that there's physical chemistry between them (their first encounter is a quickie in an airplane toilet); they care about one another enough that they make a point of visiting whenever either is in the other's home town; every other relationship either enters into crashes and burns.

So the only reason they're not together is that they don't live in the same city. She's an actress/photographer and he's an Internet entrepreneur; it's not as if either of those jobs is limited to a certain city. But there's never a conversation about "I could move" or "you could move," because these two have somehow convinced themselves that they're just good friends (who hop into bed and go at it like happy little bunnies every time they meet).

It's a shame that the movie couldn't come up with a more convincing story, because Kutcher and Peet are an appealing couple, and they work well together. There's a dinner date scene where each is refusing to talk to the other (don't ask...), and they play the ensuing silliness with sharp comic timing. Also making good impressions in smaller roles are Kal Penn as Kutcher's business partner, and Ty Giordano as Kutcher's brother, who happens to be deaf, which is utterly irrelevant to the plot, which is a nice thing to see.

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