I know what you’re thinking: “Why do I have to watch so many mediocre love movies just to get all the romantic, cinematic clichés I want and need? Why isn’t there just one mediocre film romance that has them all?”
Well, never fear, your search is over. Now you can get all the sap you need in one place! I give you Love Happens, your 24-hour, one-stop romantic cliché shop! No pandering is too low! No scene, character, dialogue, or action is too familiar or overused! No gesture or idea is too trite or cheesy!
Don’t believe me? Let’s go to the critic’s card!
Actors better than the material?
Check. Aaron Eckhart is a swell thespian and has a great leading-man marquee face. It would look good on the marquee for any film other than this. And I’m not on the hate-Jen Aniston train, but a few more performances where she stoops to conquer by taking thin, moronic roles in awful movies and I will learn to hate. I will work at it.
The healer who must heal himself?
Check. Eckhart writes a book about dealing with grief and gives seminars to help others. It’s not about the money! But wait, here’s the thing: He’s not dealing with his own grief. It’s all like ironic!
Flashbacks to a tragic car accident on a rainy night?
Check. Leftover footage from Seven Pounds appears to have been put to good, recycled use. But later, when Eckhart’s character puts a deadly jellyfish on his head? That seems more like stealing than homage.
A meet cute?
Check. They bump into each other. Yep, for real. Nothing like keeping it simple with the classics.
Followed by pretending to not like each other?
Where they angrily tell each other all the obvious, superficial things that are wrong with one another?
In the men’s bathroom?
Check. “Hey lady, this is the men’s room! You can’t be in here!“
Awkward first date?
Check. Please. Ba-dum-bum.
Jennifer Aniston does that thing where she gets all cutely flustered?
And then pulls out her signature move where she looks off and up to one side, sets her jaw, and then thinks really hard, only kind of sarcastically, like she already knows the answer?
The main character is about to close a big business deal that will change his professional and financial situation?
Check. But then Jan loses the blueprints on an amusement park ride!
One of the leads has a cool, quasi-creative job that is their life’s passion and they are very good at?
Check. Aniston owns a flower shop, because having flowers nearby makes her seem less shrill and one-dimensional.
Upper-mid-sized American city that has quirky charms and hip-cool cred that was teetering on the edge of cinematic overexposure a decade ago?
Safe, tame, pseudo-crunchy post-hippie soft-rock band?
Check. They attend a Rogue Wave concert and watch it from a telephone-company cherry picker. It’s just every bit as off-beat and adorable as it sounds.
Soft, sappy ballads sung by female singer-songwriters?
Check. It’s helpful to know when you’re supposed to be sad and/or wistful.
Uptight professional type loosens up at a boho artistic happening?
Check. Poetry slam. Apparently it’s still 1998 in Seattle.
Big, lovable, slobbery dog?
Che… wait, no! There is no big, lovable slobbery dog! Lemme check my notes again… there must be, right? Oh wait, in this afternoon’s performance the role of the big, lovable slobbery dog will be played by…
Weird, annoying cockatoo?
Grief and freedom symbolized by a bird flying up into the sky?
Opportunistic agent who wheels and deals and brags, but turns out to be a true friend with a heart of gold?
Check. Dan Fogler, as Eckhart’s hustling shill, but deep down he’s a sweetie.
Female lead’s wacky best-girlfriend who seems like a flake, but always the right answers in her own goofy way?
Check. The always-terrific Judy Greer. She’s wacky. And flaky. And goofy. And far too talented to be in something like this.
Supporting actors showing up the leads?
Check. Fogel and Greer shine. They need to star in their own romantic comedy. And John Carroll Lynch (Fargo, Zodiac) is nice and sad and stuff.
Estranged family members, torn apart by grief and anger?
Check. Martin Sheen plays’s Eckhart’s father-in-law. He’s blustery and grumpy. Like Jed Bartlet, if Jed Bartlet hated cockatoos. He and Eckhart have issues. There’s guilt and blame. And a cockatoo.
Lead roams to top of local landmark to ponder his life?
Check. What the hell else is the Space Needle good for?
Lead takes group of seminar attendees on a seemingly silly but ultimately poignant and enriching field trip?
Check. As in, Home Depot’s is in the mail. Ah, the healing power of hardware and emotional tool-belt epiphanies.
Hugging and learning?
Check. All over the place. Try not to step in it.
Big climactic speech in which hurting lead spills his guts on a public stage and truly begins the healing process?
Check. Turns out Aaron Eckhart’s deep, dark secret is that he doesn’t read scripts before signing contracts.
Check. Yes. Oh, my god, yes. There is a slow clap. Today. In 2009. In a real movie, not a parody.
Big business deal seems to be sunk by lead’s earnest public breakdown, but it turns out the flinty, hardnosed CEO of the company likes earnest public breakdowns?
Check. This happens all the time in real life. Ask my last eight bosses.
Uplifting, utterly meaningless, overused tag line?
Check. “Sometimes when you least expect it love happens.”
Better tag line?
Check. ”If you just lower your expectations and standards, Love Happens.”