Movie Mom

An exceptionally strong cast makes this fantasy romantic comedy trifle pleasantly watchable despite its chick-lit conventions. Kristen Bell is Beth, the (of course) supremely competent museum “curator,” who is so devoted to her work that she has never figured out the love thing. She is (of course) not just humiliatingly re-dumped by her ex (the always-engaging Lee Pace) in the middle of a big art gala but — just to make this a major chick-flick tragedy — she also breaks the heel of her boot at the same time. And she has a mean boss (Anjelica Houston). This officially makes her the Cinderella of the movie.

Enter Prince Charming, late and with a loud and inappropriate ringtone. That’s Josh Duhamel as Nick, who is some sort of sportswriter. And they meet at a ball, or close enough, the grand wedding of Beth’s sister to a gorgeous Italian she just met. No evil stepsisters here.) Maid of honor, meet best man. But Beth, all too ready to assume the worst about love, runs away from Nick as fast as her Louboutins can go, stopping to grab four coins from the Fountain of Love to show her defiance of all things romantic.

Enter the complication: it seems that if you remove a coin thrown by a man into the Fountain of Love, you become the object of his desire. So, back in New York and with the Big Gala coming up at the museum, Beth finds herself being something between stalked and chased by: Danny DeVito as the sausage king who sends her a basket of “encased meats,” Will Arnett as an artist who paints an enormous nude portrait of Beth on the side of a building, Jon (“Napoleon Dynamite”) Heder as a street magician who can make the audience’s patience and good will disappear, and Dax Shepherd as a guy who is unabashedly way too into himself.

There’s a lot wrong with this movie. Just for the record, I do not know what the people who made this film think curators do, but in this world party-planning for cultivation of donors seems to be Beth’s primary obligation. Anyone who works in any capacity at an art museum will have more edge and style to her clothes than Beth does, with a particularly unfortunate dress in the big denouement that looks like collision of two of the biggest fashion catastrophes of all time: the 1970’s and bridesmaid’s gowns. The movie promises much more humor from a tiny little car, some pratfalls, a confused priest, a museum exhibit about pain(!), a restaurant in the dark, the characteristics of the four suitors, and the entire premise than it delivers. But the deftness of Bell and especially Duhamel manages to make clumsiness seem a little romantic and rather sweet.

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