I’m fairly certain When in Rome was not originally intended to be a theatrical motion picture, but instead a propaganda film meant to twist your mind into hating many things: Kristen Bell, the city of Rome—nay, the entire populace of Italy. And possibly life itself.
Bell plays Beth, an art museum curator who jets off to Rome for her sister’s wedding and falls in love with Nick (Josh Duhamel), the best man. After getting as giddily elated as a defensive back who steps in front of a Brett Favre pass in an NFC championship game, she catches Nick smooching some girl, then gets so depressed she downs an entire bottle of wine and steals coins from a wishing well.
Turns out this is a magic wishing well, so everyone’s coins that she swipes falls instantly in love with her. We’re led to believe the coins come conveniently from five Americans: Nick, a magician played by Napoleon Dynamite (the guy doesn’t have a real name—he’s Napoleon Dynamite, trust me), a sausage magnate (Danny DeVito), a painter (Will Arnett) and a model (Dax Shepard).
What follows is a weak rehash of Love Potion No. 9, with Love Potion No. 9 replaced by crack. Random plotting, insipid dialogue and pathetic acting conjoining to become a medieval torture device in movie form.
How bad was it? My friend’s easily impressed wife, who once called Get Smart the funniest movie she’s ever seen and actually enjoyed Leap Year, wasn’t all that high on it, dismissing it as “gimmicky.”
Translation: It’s the worst movie ever created, with the possible exceptions of Hellboy II and the Super Mario Bros. movie.
Starring Kristen Bell and Josh Duhamel. Written by David Diamond and David Weissman. Directed by Mark Steven Johnson. Rated PG-13. 85 minutes.
Phil Villarreal’s humorous money-saving book Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel is available on Amazon.