Review: “A Lot Like Love”

With a title like that, there’s bound to be puns galore by critics… and here’s another. “A Lot Like Love” is a lot like your average rom-com, though not as you’d expect. The script is really sub-par, almost all the jokes fall flat as a tack, the poppy soundtrack surprisingly dated in feel and the direction so mundane this may as well be a straight to video. Yet its inherently decent idea of a setup, not to mention two strong lead performances, lift it above bargain bin basement level to make it – whilst not worth a full-price ticket – maybe worth a look as a rental.

Ashton Kutcher is beginning to resemble Jim Carrey in many ways, though lacking that man’s surprisingly large inherint talent. The resemblance though is in that as a comedy star he has made his name on acting in one specific way – an almost hyperactive and somewhat aggressive big kid who relies on shouting and idiocy to prove a point. Yet it’s exactly when he’s not playing this type that the guy is at his most interesting such as his dramatic turn in “The Butterfly Effect” or an uncredited and downplayed small role in “Cheaper by the Dozen”. Kutcher avoids his standard silly mugging and goofiness here to deliver something with more gravitas than we’re used to with him and it’s a welcome change.

Peet on the other hand is a more interesting and solid comedy performer and its in that genre she has made her name. In a more straightforward dramatic role here she still shows off that brazen energy that is almost a signature of hers, yet has a lot of quieter moments that she handles alright but doesn’t come across as someone who’ll break out into becoming a dramatic star. Supporting roles from the likes of Kal Penn, Ali Larter and Gabriel Mann are essentially a complete waste.

The film plays it pretty safe throughout with the standard “I love you(s)” and twist complications. The exception though is a surprisingly frank bit of nudity (I’m betting both had their bums CG enhanced, they’re just TOO good) and bad taste sex references to try and seem edgy. It doesn’t work. Without question this feels like a script that has been sitting on the shelf since the early 90’s which explains why many of the gags seem a little out of date whilst even the soundtrack feels like it’s something from an early episode of “Dawson’s Creek” than a current major movie.

At 107 minutes it’s also too damn long, pacing isn’t too bad but by the time the third or fourth ‘time jump’ comes around the main idea of the story has worn out its welcome. The romance angle for all its far too convenient turns and reaffirmations, does have a decent spark to it thanks to the two performers even though they share what seems to be zero chemistry together. As date movies go there’s certainly a lot worse out there, but there’s a lot better as well. It’s the kind of film that’s fine to watch so long as you and your partner spend most of the film making out than actually watching the screen.