Film — A Lot Like Love (PG-13)

A Lot Like Love (PG-13)

by Amy Diaz

Ashton Kutcher and Amanda Peet are a lot like Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan — but without that pair’s charm, humor or chemistry — in the very forced, very stilted A Lot Like Love.

Ah, Ashton Kutcher — I have my theories about him. Namely, I’m not sure, now that he’s a little too old for teenage sex/stoner comedies, what kind of actor he can be. He doesn’t have the comedic talents of, say, a Jim Carrey (nor does he have the comedic talents of, say, a Jon Stewart or someone else I actually find funny, but you know, I like to compare with what’s possible). But Kutcher clearly does have some comedic talents — both on That 70’s Show and Dude Where’s My Car? he showed himself well in command of the goofy. He’s certainly too Punk’d to be a serious actor. He’s vaguely handsome in an inoffensive, non-threatening way.

My theory — Ashton Kutcher is the funny Josh Hartnett.

My question — what’s the shelf life on that particular movie-type?

I’m guessing not long and I’ll bet Kutcher and his agents feel the same, hence a what-seems-like-endless string of these romantic comedies that, despite variations in plot and character, try with the desperation of a single man on his 20th first date in 15 days to get us to fall in love with the Kutcher.

This time around, Kutcher is Oliver, a floppy-haired kid we meet back in the early 1990s. He’s just out of school and ready to set sail on his life. Emily (Amanda Peet) is a punkily dressed girl who covers for problems we never learn of (thank God) by being shocking. They spot each other while waiting to board a plane but before they ever get a chance to say a word to each other Emily squeezes herself into the airplane’s bathroom with a surprised Oliver for a little mid-flight nookie. Once the plane lands in New York, the two actually meet each other and spend just enough time together to sicken us with their cuteness before parting for a few years. Thus begins a series of meetings followed by long periods of separation while the pair build careers and date other people.

Why does it take Emily and Oliver so long to be together? Well, for one thing, if they got together in the first five minutes, as we are clearly supposed to want them to, then what would we do for the rest of the movie’s roughly 90 minutes? But, more deeply, I image that it would be hard for them to stick together. Aside from their strange and occasional dalliances with each other, there is not a single interesting or likeable thing about either character. Kutcher has all the charisma and personality of spackle. Peet is all weird angles and twitches, as though too much eyeliner and chain smoking were all you needed to create personality traits.

A Lot Like Love, which takes forever to end, is so flat and forced that it seems to never really start.

- Amy Diaz

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