53° Good Evening
53° Good Evening

'When in Rome,' she's looking for love

You'd think by now Hollywood would have romantic comedies down to a cell-phone app any studio exec could access.

Cute couple? Check.

Romantic location? Check.

"Obstacles" to romance? Yup.

But if it were just a formula, you could hire any hack to turn Kristen Bell into America's new sweetheart in "When in Rome." Bell, a petite, pretty blonde, may or may not have the Meg Ryan-Julia Roberts-Sandra Bullock goods. But "When in Rome," a leaden variation on that rom-com recipe, fails utterly to make her case.

Bell plays Beth, a curator at the Guggenheim. She has a younger sister (Alexis Dziena) who's getting married in Rome. At the wedding, Beth is ready to be "open" to love, as her dad (Don Johnson) suggests. And devil-may-care sports reporter Nick (Josh Duhamel) fills that bill.

But he may be a womanizer, leading Beth to a drunken dip in the Fontana di Amore, where she steals a few coins and sets our plot in motion.

Those coins were wishes, and the men who tossed them - a sausage magnate (Danny DeVito), a screwball magician (Jon Heder), a demented Italian artist (Will Arnett) and a self-absorbed "model" (Dax Shepard) - are instantly smitten.

Can Beth shed her unwanted beaus and tumble for Mr. Right? Is Mr. Right pursuing her of his own free will, or did he toss a coin, too?

Despite her memorable turn in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," Bell doesn't have Ryan's make-us-laugh-at-her-pain thing, Roberts' sass or Bullock's lovelorn shtick. This trip to the Eternal City feels interminable, thanks to her.


We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

More Entertainment