Imagine if the ads really came true, if you really are chased by an admiring crowd of the opposite sex. Would it be perfect? Not for Beth (Kristen Bell). For her, the dream just turned nightmare.
Beth is the quintessential modern woman who loves her job as art curator so much that it leads to the failure of her relationships with men. She has given up on the magic called love and she does not hope, yet she secretly does hope that just maybe she will meet a man who she`ll `love more than her job`.
She chides her kid sister who is marrying an Italian she met two weeks earlier. At her sister`s marriage in Rome, she unwittingly picks up coins from the fountain of love, coins that lovers have thrown wishing for the perfect love. She thus mysteriously attracts the five men to whom the five coins belongs. One of them is Nick (Josh Duhamel), the man she met at her sister`s marriage.
A funny set of events ensues as the men under the spell chase and try to woo her even as she falls for Nick, unwilling because she knows his love is caused by the spell.
The plot, as you can read, is perfect for a romantic comedy. Only just a decent plot does not a romantic comedy needs. They are made by something magical, not the spell, but the mysterious chemistry between its lead pair, some interesting incidents, insights, the timing of their actors. "When in Rome" has none.
It entertains, but has nothing that you have not seen before - the slapstick comedy, the bumping on poles, the hesitation between wannabe lovers? it`s all been done to death and often in the exact way film shows.
The characterisation in "When in Rome" is paper thin. Not much time is devoted to most of the characters besides the lead pair.
The film is also a tome of missed opportunities. The plot is built up well, but not exploited enough and neither are the situation for humour that such a plot presents itself. It would seem the writer and director suffered from imaginations-block. But that may not be the case. Director Mark Steven Johnson debuted with the heart-tugging "Simon Birch" and went to make action thrillers, "Daredevil" and "Ghost Rider". This is his first foray in the genre of romance-comedy and the effort clearly shows.
Right from the title, to situations, almost everything in the film is cliched. There is no witty one-liners, no moments funny enough for you to share with friends and even the chemistry between the lead pair seem devoid of passion.
There is nothing that you will take back from the movie. Love, and finding the right partner may feel magical, but rest assured, watching this movie will not.