A LOT LIKE LOVE
**1/2 (out of 5)
April 22, 2005
Amanda Peet as EMILY FRIEHL
Ashton Kutcher as OLIVER MARTIN
Taryn Manning as ELLEN MARTIN
Aimee Garcia as NICOLE
Directed by: Nigel Cole
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
“A Lot Like Love” is a story of two young lovers whose lives swerve into each other throughout the years – but they never really hook up. The only thing standing in the way of their relationship is their own hang-ups and problems. Things just never seem to work out for them.
This general plot is not new at all. The periodic love affair story crops up now and then in Hollywood. Alan Alda did it in “Same Time Next Year,” but most memorable was Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan in the penultimate romantic comedy, “When Harry Met Sally.”
In fact, “A Lot Like Love” has such a familiar ring to it, that it would be more aptly named “A Lot Like When Harry Met Sally.” The only difference is that “When Harry Met Sally” was an all-around better film. While “A Lot Like Love” is competently put together, there’s nothing about the characters or the situations that really grabbed me by the heart.
In the opening of the film, Oliver Martin (Ashton Kutcher) has a porno movie run-in with Emily Friehl (Amanda Peet) – she jumps him in an airplane bathroom after she broke up with her boyfriend only minutes before. Like any naive young man in his early 20s, Oliver took this as a sign they would be together. But Emily is a flake, and while they end up hanging out in the Big Apple together for a while, they end up parting ways.
Years later, in a desperate attempt to secure a New Year’s Eve date, Emily calls up Oliver. Again, this results from Emily having recently broken up with her boyfriend. What ensues is a six year off-again/never-really-on-again relationship between Emily and Oliver.
“A Lot Like Love” is told with a Generation X sensibility. Translated, that means, it’s full of angst and often plays out more like a first-time independent film than a major Hollywood romance. The characters are only really like this in a stereotypical fashion in the beginning of the film, but they carry with them all the baggage that the Gen-X crowd has. This is ultimately what causes them problems in the future, all six years of it.
Ashton Kutcher and Amanda Peet play well off each other – at least enough to keep your date interested. But not much more. Peet is cute, but she’s just not focused in this film. On one hand, she’s this rebellious youth, but then she becomes the well grounded art photographer. It’s too much of a turnaround without any real reason.
Most romantic comedies have nothing new to offer, but they don’t make their money on being unique or groundbreaking. Instead, they make their money by making it fun to watch the predictable happen. In this film, while you’re waiting for the characters to fall in love, it’s not always the easiest to fall in love with the characters yourself.
Ashton Kutcher seems to the flavor of the month recently in Hollywood, but despite the personal and sexual views of Demi Moore, he ain’t all that great. In fact, he’s actually pretty mundane as the average Joe character. He should go back to his roots of Kelso from “That 70s Show” or his Oscar-worthy performance in “Dude, Where’s My Car.”
Unfortunately, if Ashton Kutcher keeps insisting on trying for the serious roles – or even just the light-hearted mainstream, he’s going to end up the Keanu Reeves of his generation.