April 22, 2005
Flick reminiscent of When Harry Met Sally
By LOUIS B. HOBSON - Calgary Sun
Ashton Kutcher's new romantic comedy A Lot Like Love could just as easily have been called Love on the Rebound.
Oliver (Kutcher) and Emily (Amanda Peet) are star-crossed lovers who first encounter each other at the L.A. airport on their way to New York.
Oliver is off to see his older brother, Graham (Ty Giordano), while Emily is off to see her father and his new wife.
Emily has just broken up with her wannabe rock-star boyfriend and finds solace by dragging Oliver into the airplane washroom for sex.
The nerdy Oliver can't believe his luck and tries to pursue the relationship in New York, only to learn Emily is trying to find herself.
They part and the movie fast-forwards two years to New Year's Eve.
Oliver has an Internet diaper service and Emily is a struggling actress who has just been dumped by her actor boyfriend.
She finds Oliver's phone number and they link up again.
On their third encounter, it's Oliver who's just been dumped and is not emotionally available.
Like the lovers in When Harry Met Sally and Serendipity, it's clear Oliver and Emily are meant for each other, and the audience just has to sit back and wait until they clue in.
What keeps A Lot Like Love interesting are the performances and Nigel Cole's understated direction.
As he proved with the British comedy Saving Grace, Cole knows how to make situations funny and bizarre without letting them get so loopy they seem silly.
Oliver and Emily do their share of wacky things, but the moments are staged with such spontaneity they seem real rather than contrived.
Kutcher is refreshingly restrained. Weekly on That 70s Show, he is required to be a bundle of twitchy nerves and uncontrolled exuberance.
Too much of this manic energy found its way into his performance in his teaming with Bernie Mac for Guess Who.
This time out, he's created a character who seems more bemused and bewildered than bedeviled. Better still, Oliver goes through major transformations showing why Emily finds him intriguing.
Instead of oozing sweetness or mystery, Peet is a bundle of sexual energy.
Her Emily is clearly in charge during most of the relationship.
Watching Peet relinquish this dominance to Kutcher is a major part of the film's charm.
Emily may be vulnerable until she finds her niche, but she is never needy to the point of being a victim.
Oliver's brother Graham is deaf and, to the film's credit, is played by a deaf actor with a great deal of wit and compassion when each is required.
There's no question A Lot Like Love owes much to previous romantic comedies, but it is so buoyant it's fun and engaging.
(This film is rated PG)