Awkwardness is fine in a romantic lead. In fact, it can be almost adorable if you look like Billy Crystal.
On the other hand, if one is as genetically blessed as Ashton Kutcher, the viewer expects a certain romantic suaveness, a Cary Grant-esque inclination to charm. Instead, he demonstrates a horrific capacity to remind you of when your brother was twelve and had no spatial reasoning ability.
Because, despite his traipsing about with Demi Moore to Kabbalah Temples, and pulling horrible, ill-conceived tricks on celebrities, Ashton Kutcher is a nerdy romantic. He hulks awkwardly. His facial expressions are spastic and he looks positively lumpish on screen. Amanda Peet looks embarrassed most of the time she is on screen with him—and she’s had to work with Mathew Perry (twice!). And, unfortunately, “A Lot Like Love” has a screen play riddled with so many clichés that it desperately needs all consuming chemistry from its leads, and this pairing falls extraordinarily short.
“A Lot Like Love” is one of those iconic Hollywood stories of random sex that eventually flowers into an all-consuming, mutually caring love (which has never happened to me in college, but hey, this is the movies). On a flight from Los Angeles to New York, Oliver (Ashton Kutcher), a jobless college graduate with an unflattering bowl haircut, meets Emily (Amanda Peet) who is wearing combat boots. It seems to be a match made in heaven. Or at least an army surplus store. And, lo and behold, they end up having sex in the airport bathroom.
After their flight, they meet up in New York later that day. Must be serendipity…wait, no. That was that other crappy version of the same movie. After a prolonged and thoroughly boring date, in which Oliver is charmed by Emily’s ability to guzzle whiskey and take odd pictures of him in unflattering poses, they part ways.
In the intervening seven years, Emily (sans combat boots) and Kutcher (sans whack haircut) call one another after particularly rough breakups. These unhappy times require that Oliver and Emily meet up and go on some terribly awkward dates, where, in frighteningly ill-timed bouts of physical comedy, they each put inanimate objects up their respective noses. When Emily finally gets engaged to Ben (Jeremy Sisto, who played Elton in “Clueless”), Oliver must confront his complicated feelings towards her, and eventually does so by going to her house and singing Bon Jovi. Wait, I think that’s how my parents got together, too.
The acting in “A Lot Like Love” is a lot like crappy. Peet seems to be uncomfortable that she is in this movie. Valiantly, she tries to save it, but she can’t turn lead into gold.
Meanwhile Kutcher looks like he is about to cry about 70 percent of the time; dude, looks like you’ve been punk’d by your acting coach. The supporting roles are cartoonish and almost too negligible to mention, besides Taryn Manning’s scene-stealing role as Kutcher’s slutty sister.
It is not predictability that makes “A Lot Like Love” one of the most insipid movies I have ever seen. All romantic comedies are essentially predictable. But this slovenly effort injects absolutely nothing into the genre. It is not clever. It is not funny. It is about as cliché-ridden and absurd as “Dawn of the Dead.” This fluff would only have been passable with Bogie and Bacall-like chemistry between the leads, but Peet and Kutcher come a lot closer to Michael Jackson and Debbie Rowe.
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars