“A Lot Like Love,” starring Ashton Kutcher and Amanda Peet, teases audiences with its tagline, “Thereʼs nothing better than a great romance… to ruin a perfectly good friendship.” Unfortunately, there is no friendship in this movie and after seeing it, Iʼm still waiting for the great romance. The movie begins as Oliver (Kutcher) is leaving to go to New York to visit his brother, and Emily (Peet) has just broken up with her boyfriend as heʼs dropping her off at the airport. Emily seems to be looking to join the “Mile High Club” with Oliver as she pushes herself into the bathroom while heʼs occupying it.
The movie is reminiscent of “Serendipity,” which had a measurable plot and was entertaining and cute. This film, though, tries to play into that “fate will win all” twist and make the audience believe that these characters will eventually wind up together, despite life getting in the way. When the two first become friends, Emily is in a “punk” stage and Oliver is a year out of college, still trying to find his way as he plots to do something with the Internet.
The movie spans the course of seven years, during which Emily grows her hair out, finds a writer boyfriend, and auditions for a low budget movie where she apparently will play a vampire. Oliver moves out of his parents home, starts an Internet company selling diapers, and is dumped by the woman he is living with because of the amount of time he spends at work. There is no great friendship, and no real emotional attachment between these characters, as the movie gives a little bit of them together, slowly falling in love, only to jump to why they canʼt be together at the present moment. Then it jumps ahead a few more years to when they meet again.
The movie is obvious in its intent. It wants us to fall for these characters and to believe that they should be together despite jobs, location and relationships getting in the way. Once the idea of them together takes hold on the audience, itʼs quickly taken away.
“A Lot Like Love” is clich in that the audience knows whatʼs going to happen before the characters do, and weʼre just sitting in our seats, waiting for it to get to the part where maybe there will be a happy ending. There are the defining moments of their relationship– Emily is obviously quirky, she wants to be spunky and spontaneous, but the character development falls flat. Itʼs almost as if Amanda Peet wants to make her the girl who changes Oliverʼs life, who makes him want more than he thinks he deserves, but she canʼt quite get there because the rules of the clich, “put them together, pull them apart,” are holding her back. Likewise, Oliver canʼt seem to get his life together and while itʼs obvious heʼs in love with Emily, there are just too many things standing in his way. He sings Bon Jovi on his guitar to her entire apartment building, for crying out loud, something so overdone in the movies that it should be completely banned.
The move, while flattering to her, is not as romantic to the audience and is brought to an abrupt end with her “shocking” announcement: sheʼs engaged, and heʼs six years too late. And once again, after all these years of back and forth, the ping-pong effect has come to a stand still– will they live happily ever after?
Maybe. But the truth is the movie doesnʼt give the audience enough time to become invested and really care. It moves through the years too quickly and never expands their relationship more than a few scenes (a party, a road trip, a scene in a restaurant where they donʼt even talk!). The movie is too superficial in pushing what it wants the audience to believe about the people rather than working to make their relationship even half plausible. Sure, theyʼre cute together and sure, itʼd be nice if these two people found one another despite their disorganized lives, but the movie is too abrupt and too awkwardly portrayed for the audience to really even bother caring. Itʼs a real disappointment, especially because its predecessor, “Serendipity,” made fate fun and worthwhile, with characters that were not clichs but rather were real people that the audience could care about. Instead, “A Lot Like Love,” was a lot like a big disappointment.