×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

A Lot Like Love

Ashton Kutcher's second romantic comedy of the spring is far more appealing than "Guess Who" -- and pairs him with Amanda Peet -- but it's also more difficult to market, featuring a nondescript premise and almost languid pace. Pic's happiest ending should be as a rental, although favorable word of mouth could yield some surprise box office bounty.

With:
Oliver Martin - Ashton Kutcher Emily Friehl - Amanda Peet Michelle - Kathryn Hahn Jeeter - Kal Penn Graham Martin - Ty Giordano

Ashton Kutcher’s second romantic comedy of the spring is far more appealing than “Guess Who” — and pairs him with a beguiling Amanda Peet — but it’s also more difficult to market, featuring a nondescript premise and almost languid pace. In essence, British director Nigel Cole has brought a breezy arthouse sensibility to this tale of fated love, which proves pleasant company but doesn’t offer a lot of flourishes to highlight in a 30-second TV spot. As such, pic’s happiest ending should be as a rental, although favorable word of mouth could yield some surprise box office bounty.

The movie’s structural conceit is intriguing but also episodic enough to be somewhat confining. Beginning “seven years ago,” we meet just-graduated Oliver (Kutcher) and Emily (Peet) when she impulsively inducts him into the mile-high club. The two spend an afternoon together, but his interest in extending the relationship is cut short when Emily warns him that to pursue things further would “ruin it.”

Three years later he’s pursuing his entrepreneurial dreams when Emily rings him up in search of a New Year’s Eve date after being dumped by a boyfriend. The relationship thus continues to unfold in one- or two-year intervals, each time finding them at different places in their lives, counting down to a present that one needn’t have seen “When Harry Met Sally” to anticipate.

Yet as familiar as that sounds and mostly feels, Cole (“Calendar Girls”) milks considerable charm and unforced laughs from his leads, whose natural performances and easy rapport make for a hard-to-resist combination. “You and I will never become a thing,” a punked-out Emily tells Oliver after their first tryst, and if it’s pretty obvious that’s untrue, it’s still rather fun watching them make it so.

It would help, no doubt, if the well-cast supporting players registered more strongly, but at its core this is a two-character piece, and Colin Patrick Lynch’s screenplay labors a bit to keep the two apart, if only to keep putting them back together. That includes encounters in New York and Los Angeles, as well as Oliver’s stint launching a dot-com in San Francisco, the underlying thread being whether he can incorporate love into his carefully plotted ambitions.

Nevertheless, there’s a gentle quality to the film that’s too rare these days — a tone aided immeasurably by Alex Wurman’s score and a fine song soundtrack. Emily and Oliver’s impromptu rendition of Chicago’s “If You Leave Me Now,” in fact, yields one of the movie’s brighter moments — one of two occasions in which Kutcher demonstrates that he should stick to his day job.

Granted, “A Lot Like Love” is a lot like any number of romantic comedies, but there should always be room for another good one, even if it follows a bassackward and well-beaten path from “Seven years ago” to “Happily ever after.”

A Lot Like Love

Production: A Buena Vista release of a Touchstone Pictures and Beacon Pictures presentation of a Beacon production in association with Kevin Messick Prods. Produced by Armyan Bernstein, Messick. Executive producers, Charlie Lyons, Zanne Devine, Suzann Ellis. Co-producer, Lisa Bruce. Directed by Nigel Cole. Screenplay, Colin Patrick Lynch.

Crew: Camera (Deluxe color), John de Borman; editor, Susan Littenberg; music, Alex Wurman; music supervisors, Laura Z. Wasserman, Diane Stata; production designer, Tom Meyer; art director, Denise Hudson; set decorator, Meg Everist; costume designer, Alix Friedberg; sound (Dolby Digital SDDS DTS), Steve Nelson; supervising sound editors, Kelly Cabral, Paul Timothy Carden; assistant director, Betsy Magruder; casting, Joseph Middleton. Reviewed at Bruin Theater, Los Angeles, April 19, 2005. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 107 MIN.

With: Oliver Martin - Ashton Kutcher Emily Friehl - Amanda Peet Michelle - Kathryn Hahn Jeeter - Kal Penn Graham Martin - Ty Giordano

More Film

  • '2019 Oscar Nominated Short Films: Live

    Film Review: ‘2019 Oscar Nominated Short Films: Live Action’

    The Academy skewed dark in its choice of live-action shorts this year, selecting four films to slit your wrists by — each one featuring child endangerment in a different form — and a fifth, about a diabetic on her death bed, that finds a glimmer of uplift at the other end of life. If that [...]

  • How the 'Rich Eisen Show' Mixes

    How the 'Rich Eisen Show' Mixes Sports and Showbiz in an Entertaining Mix

    Walking through the El Segundo studio where veteran sportscaster Rich Eisen tapes his daily “Rich Eisen Show,” the sheer density of sports memorabilia is overwhelming — everything from game balls to jerseys, gear, autographs and uncountable photos are crammed onto every inch of wall and desk space. But step into Eisen’s dressing room, and the [...]

  • Yorgos Lanthimos

    Film News Roundup: 'The Favourite' Director Yorgos Lanthimos Boards Crime Drama

    In today’s film news roundup, Yorgos Lanthimos has set up a crime drama, “Here Lies Daniel Tate” is being adapted, and Donna Langley becomes a member of the USC film school board. DIRECTOR HIRED “The Favourite” producer-director Yorgos Lanthimos has signed on to write and direct crime drama “Pop. 1280,” an adaptation of Jim Thompson’s [...]

  • Brody Stevens Dead

    Comedian Brody Stevens Dies at 48

    Prominent Los Angeles comedian Brody Stevens died Friday in Los Angeles, Variety has confirmed. He was 48. “Brody was an inspiring voice who was a friend to many in the comedy community,” Stevens’ reps said in a statement. “He pushed creative boundaries and his passion for his work and his love of baseball were contagious. [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business

    Hollywood Agents Blast Writers Guild Over New Proposals

    The war between the Writers Guild of America and Hollywood agents has escalated as the two sides battle over the rules on how writers are represented. The latest volley emerged Friday from Karen Stuart, executive director of the Association of Talent Agents, who accused WGA leaders of misleading its members and asserted that the guild [...]

  • Xavier Legrand Custody

    Cesar Awards: Xavier Legrand’s ‘Custody’ Wins Best Film

    Xavier Legrand’s feature debut “Custody,” a tense portrait of a family torn by domestic violence, won best film, actress (for Lea Drucker), and original screenplay at the 44th Cesar Awards, which took place at the Salle Pleyel in Paris. The awards are France’s highest film honors. “Custody,” which marks Legrand’s follow up to his Oscar-nominated [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    'Crazy Rich Asians,' 'Late Show With Stephen Colbert' Win Publicity Campaign Awards

    Hollywood publicists have selected “Crazy Rich Asians” as the top movie publicity campaign for 2018 and “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” as the best television campaign. Warner Bros.’ “Crazy Rich Asians” topped the campaigns for Disney’s “Black Panther,” Fox’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Paramount’s “A Quiet Place,” Sony’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” and Universal’s “Halloween” for [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content