A Lot Like Love

UK release date: 8 September 2009

cast list

Ashton Kutcher
Amanda Peet

directed by
Nigel Cole

A Lot Like Love is a lot like a lot of other road trip rom-coms that have gone before it: sweet, vaguely entertaining but ultimately a trip down the same old love highways and equally as forgettable.

It is charming enough, and as you would expect there are elements of other hit rom-coms featuring on-off love affairs conducted over time, notably Serendipity and When Harry Met Sally. And that is the ultimate problem. This is a ‘seen it all before movie’, and without any fresh appeal to make it stand out it fails to linger longer in the memory than a Meg Ryan orgasm.

Oliver (Ashton Kutcher) and Emily (Amanda Peet) first meet on a flight from Los Angeles to New York when they are both in their early twenties. Charismatic and quirky Emily has just broken up with her musician boyfriend, while Oliver is a shy geek hoping to strike rich with his new business; an internet diaper firm. Before we know it the two have joined the mile-high club, but afterwards instead of love at first flight, Emily wants to go her separate way.

So far so predictable. But – and wouldn’t you just know it – the two of them run into each other the very next day. Oliver scribbles down his number, but inevitably the two lose touch.

Scroll forward every couple of years and the two seem destined to keep bumping into each other. By now Oliver’s got his internet company and Emily’s been busying herself with acting and photography. Relationships come and go, as do cliche after overworked cliche until – shock horror – they realise what we’ve known all along. I won’t spoil it for you, just say that it feels like a long time coming.

The two leads Kutcher and Peet share a certain chemistry. Kutcher, the over-rated star of many a teen movie, surprises. Better known as Mr Demi Moore in the red tops, he may never set the world alight with his acting ability, but as Oliver he is endearing rather than irritating. Peet, meanwhile, remains an undervalued enigma, and once again gives a performance in which her comic timing and emotional vulnerability should win audiences over.

But Peet’s performance cannot redeem the movie’s predictability. We know its final destination before the opening credits have rolled thanks to myriad similar set ups from older and better movies – not least the comedies of Katherine Hepburn. The most obvious comparison is with When Harry Met Sally, but whereas that was also a fresh and wry commentary on the way the genders look at relationships and the ultimate desire for love, All About Love lacks the instant emotional insight or resonance to make the journey to the final denouement more than mildly diverting.

As films go it is not a bad romantic romp and Kutcher and Peet are both easy on the eye, but it is forgettable and nothing like as entertaining as Kutcher’s real love life. In fact the Heat/MTV generation this film is aimed at will probably spend more time discussing his off-screen action with the reconstituted Ms Moore. And knowing what we know about his private life does make watching him falling slowly but predictably in love with a woman his own age seem somewhat far-fetched.

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