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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

A LOT LIKE LOVE (article first published : 2005-09-2)

Predictability reigns in A Lot Like Love, a glossy but humdrum new romantic comedy from British director Nigel Cole, hitherto of note for his enchanting Calendar Girls.

Here he works with a likeable cast in gawky Ashton Kutcher and gorgeous Amanda Peet, but the material is so slight, the tale so contrived, the pacing so laboured and the ending so obvious, it's only the occasional injection of some quirky humour that gives the film any real lift.

Kutcher plays Oliver, a guy who, a year out of school, takes a flight from Los Angeles to visit his deaf brother in New York and gets a most pleasant surprise while airborne. An attractive woman who took his fancy in the airport departure lounge suddenly pushes him into the plane's toilet and has her way with him, without a word passed between them.

That woman is Emily (Peet), and when their plane touches down in the Big Apple she is keen to go her own way without even an exchange of names. But Oliver pursues her, works on his charm, gives her his name and, finally, learns hers. Then, after a train trip and bar visit with Emily, he gives her his phone number and tells her to ring him in six years, when he plans to be married and have made his millions from selling nappies on the internet.

Zap forward three years and Emily, after a broken romance, calls Oliver again, leading to another romantic entanglement with him, followed by another hasty departure and many months apart.

Then they meet again ... and so on and so on - each time one or both of them being romantically linked to someone else and making it more difficult to admit to each other that they are soulmates.

Featuring a supporting cast that is largely superfluous, A Lot Like Love stretches credibility - if Oliver and Emily are so smitten by one another would they really let a minimum of 12 months pass before inquiring about the other?

But, for all its flaws and clichés, it seemed to have kept an ample weekend audience satisfied. Rating: 6/10. – Billy Suter




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