When in Rome
Save Your Coins

In the world of subpar movies, there are those that are just bad (Legion) and others that are just plain stupid.  With its characters that can’t grasp the obvious, When in Rome certainly falls into the latter category.

The movie focuses on Beth, a young, single, and successful curator at the Guggenheim Museum.  You would think this means she has a great appreciation for art, but when she rushes to the art-laden city of Rome for her sister’s wedding, she cannot see past the reception bar meter on her cell phone.  When she meets the handsome best man Nick, however, she is ready to throw caution to the wind.  Unfortunately, it appears Nick is already spoken for and this leads her to drunkenly wade into a reputed fountain of love and steal some coins meant as romantic wishes.  Unfortunately for Beth, it seems that whenever you remove a coin from the fountain, the owner of that coin will fall desperately in love with you.

Now back in New York, she is accosted on all sides by men who express their undying love for her.  One of these men is none other than Nick.  Although Beth begins to fall head over heels in love with Nick, she can’t be sure if his affections are real, or the result of some kind of magic spell.

Mark Steven Johnson, director of When in RomeMeanwhile, the answer is obvious to anyone in the audience who is even just partially paying attention to the movie, and might be to Beth as well, if she would just stop for a second to think about things.  Unfortunately, she is too full of her self-importance to do so and this becomes increasingly frustrating and makes her an impossible character to support.

The rest of the characters are all horribly drawn caricatures, from the domineering boss to the self-infatuated male model.  The worst may be a street magician who eventually tells Beth that before she inspired him, he didn’t have the courage to perform in public.  This is contradictory to the first time we see him when, before he fell under the spell, he is performing in public.  I repeat, stupid.  Still, the casting of Napoleon Dynamite’s Jon Heder as the magician did inspire the film’s one moment of actual comedy: a cameo by Efren Ramirez, aka Pedro.

The movie’s only character that you might actually want to get behind is Nick, but you want to push him in a different direction than he seems determined to go.  He also can’t seem to go anywhere without running into trees and falling into open manholes as the movie desperately attempts to mine comedy where there isn’t any.  Of course, no matter how many pratfalls Nick takes, he suffers not a scratch.

It is the audience that suffers the real beating in When in Rome, a movie that drags painfully despite its rather light 91-minute runtime.  As if things weren’t already bad enough, the movie also features perhaps the worst performance by an extra in movie history.  He was much too happy.  Well, at least someone got some enjoyment out of this movie.

When in Rome is rated PG-13 for “some suggestive content.”  There’s a brief scene of sensuality that must be the cause for the rating.  Other than that, it’s just stupidity.

Courtesy of a local publicist, Jeff attended a promotional screening of When in Rome.