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A Lot Like Love

A Lot Like Love feels a lot like other romantic endeavors, from Say Anything to Before Sunrise. Unfortunately, it's nothing but seven years of bad luck--for audiences, that is--as Ashton Kutcher and Amanda Peet steadfastly refuse to act on the feelings they harbor for each other as the 1990s roll into the 2000s.


Let's give a big hand to the two newest members of the Mile High Club. Yes, total strangers Oliver (Ashton Kutcher) and Emily (Amanda Peet) hook up during an otherwise quiet flight from L.A. to New York City. Heck, the two don't say a word until they bump into each other at the baggage claim. ''Blah, blah, it's ruined,'' Emily moans the second Oliver opens his big mouth. How sweet. How could they not be soul mates? So what if they share nothing in common aside from a mutual attraction? The bashful Oliver's an aspiring Internet entrepreneur eager to marry the perfect woman, live in a beautiful house, and drive the flashiest car. The outgoing Emily's an actress with less talent than Paris Hilton and a thing for lousy musicians and writers. So why do director Nigel Cole and screenwriter Colin Patrick Lynch insist on making this lousy love match? They even drag this dead-end romance from the late 1990s to today, as Oliver bets Emily $50 that he will have the life he desires in just seven years. Predictably, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and whenever they cross paths--from a day in New York City or a night in L.A.--they fall more in love with each other. Of course, there's always something preventing them from making a commitment. Yawn. By the time Oliver and Emily decide it's now or never, they've grown so whiny and wearisome you won't care whether they spend the rest of their lives together or apart.


Kutcher promises to slip on his tighty whities and model again for Calvin Klein if A Lot Like Love reigns supreme at the box office. Sorry, girls, that won't happen. But Kutcher does flash a little flesh when he drops his drawers for Peet. Otherwise, he doesn't display much of anything else in his most wretched offering since My Boss's Daughter. If ever Kutcher wanted to prove he can inject a little charisma or personality into an underwritten role, A Lot Like Love offers him his greatest opportunity. But he blows it. Or maybe he's not capable of doing anything other than getting so flustered he can barely spit out his words, as he does in all his witless comedies. Kutcher's Oliver Martin is as bland as his name and as dull as his line of business. This makes it tough to believe Emily--in the form of the spunky Peet--would even think twice about pursuing a relationship with this drip. Then again, the relentlessly grating Emily isn't exactly a prize catch, negating Peet's efforts to give A Lot Like Love a little pungency. You have to pity Peet: she so willingly participates in one farcical flop after another--from Whipped to Saving Silverman to The Whole Ten Yards--that she's dangerously close to ruining what was never really a particularly promising career.


Ever cleaned out the back of your car and found a soundtrack CD you forgot you bought? Those CDs always boast great pop songs that you never hear on the radio anymore. But no matter how many times you listen to the songs, you can't remember the film that accompanied the soundtrack. That's A Lot Like Love: terrific soundtrack, lousy movie. To lazily evoke a sense of time and place, director Nigel Cole leans heavily on well-worn hits from the late 1990s and early 2000s by Smash Mouth and Third Eye Blind. That would be all well and dandy if Cole at least injected A Lot Like Love with some comic pizzazz. For a film told over the course of seven years, A Lot Like Love moves slowly, awkwardly and uneventfully. Perhaps Cole left his sense of humor back in England, where he directed the screwy Saving Grace and the plucky Calendar Girls. Or maybe he's more comfortable chronicling the misadventures of middle-aged women than the bed-hopping antics of self-involved twentysomethings. He gets so desperate for laughs that he makes Kutcher and Peet spit water at each other during a dinner eaten in silence. But the most grating moment sadly recalls Say Anything's sweet and touching climax: rather than blast Peter Gabriel's In Your Eyes from a boom box, a guitar-strumming Kutcher instead serenades Peet with an unfunny off-key rendition of Bon Jovi's ''I'll be There For You.'' OK, so maybe not every song on the soundtrack deserves another spin.

Bottom Line

Kutcher and Peet's date with destiny offers very little in the way of romance or laughs. It also drags on longer than the seven years that it takes this odd couple to decide what they want with their lives. Let them waste their lives--and not yours--on something that feels like but isn't really A Lot Like Love.