My expectations for "When in Rome" were admittedly not high - the film looked like a cookie-cutter rom-com. After watching the movie, it's still a predictable and rather formulaic offering that has its share of goofy issues. Still, it's sweet, occasionally charming and offers a few big laughs (some intentional, as well as some enjoyable unintentional ones.)
The picture stars Kristin Bell as Beth, a neurotic (the picture seems a little like Bell trying to do an audition tape for a Woody Allen movie) young curator at the Guggenheim in NYC, where her task seems to solely be throwing fundraisers. When her sister suddenly gets married, she heads off to Rome and proceeds to fall for best man Nick (Josh Duhamel). When she sees him talking to another woman, rather than waiting for an explanation, she flips and runs into the Fountain of Love, taking out a few coins out of frustration.
Unfortunately for her, this causes a series of men to fall under her spell. The four men - a David Blane-esque magician (Jon Heder), an artist (Will Arnett), an narcissistic model (Dax Shepard) and a sausage magnate (Danny DeVito) - all proceed to follow her around NYC (unintentionally funny element one: while the picture is called "When In Rome", it's barely in Rome) while she tries to get the latest fundraiser together and find whether or not Nick really likes her or if he's just under her spell.
The movie is goofy, but elements of it work rather well - mainly, Heder. The character gets the sort of David Blane/Criss Angel street magician persona absolutely spot-on (down to the pseudo-mystical comments), to the point where the character could have its own movie. In a nod to "Napoleon Dynamite" (and apparently it was recently announced that "Napoleon" will return as an animated TV show), Heder's magician character has his stunts filmed by a character played by "Napoleon" co-star Efren Ramirez. Arnett also gets a few laughs, but the movie doesn't figure out much for Devito to do, and Shephard has nothing on Ben Stiller when it comes to playing a shallow model. Duhamel has decent chemistry with Bell, but the performance otherwise seems a bit bland.
"When In Rome" does have its share of flaws (the picture is fueled by more than a few coincidences) and sloppy moments - both in terms of script (a moment where Beth's assistant steals the coins late in the movie has absolutely no purpose aside from extending the movie and another scene at a restaurant that forces its guests to eat in total darkness descends into slapstick) and otherwise (the characters zoom through the streets of NYC in a tiny car late in the movie and then start zooming along sidewalks...right past a police car with its lights on - and nothing happens.)
Still, Bell makes for an appealing lead and some of the supporting cast have terrific moments (although again, Heder's performance is funny enough that I think the character could have his own movie), as well. "When in Rome" stumbles over itself at times, but still remains a rather likable date night rental.
VIDEO: "When in Rome" is presented by Touchstone in 2.35:1 (1080p/AVC). While the presentation has occasional moments of softness, most of the film looked pleasantly crisp and well-defined, allowing viewers to appreciate some of the NYC scenery and the scene as Bell travels through Rome.
A couple of slight instances of edge enhancement were spotted, but the elements used looked pristine and the picture otherwise looked clean. Colors looked bright and warm, with very nice saturation and no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: The film's DTS-HD 5.1 audio presentation is - as one might expect - a low-key effort with minimal surround use. The dialogue-driven track puts the surrounds to use at times for ambience and musical reinforcement, but the audio is otherwise spread across the front speakers. Audio quality is very nice, with clear dialogue and full-bodied score.
EXTRAS: "Crazy Casanovas: Mischief From the Set" featurette, deleted/alternate opening/closing, deleted scenes, "More Pain with the Suitors", music videos and bloopers.
Final Thoughts: "When in Rome" is a bumpy ride at times, but aspects of the film (Bell, Heder) make-up for some of the flaws. It's a silly, moderately enjoyable date night rental. The Blu-Ray offers fine audio/video quality, as well as a few minor extras.
The Film B-