U.S. Release Date: April 22, 2005
Distributor: Buena Vista
Composer: Alex Wurman
Cast: Ashton Kutcher, Amanda Peet, Ali Larter, Kal Penn
Running Time: 1 hour and 37 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (sexual content, nudity and language)

Falling in Love for Dummies
by Scott Holleran

A notch lower than mediocre, director Nigel Cole's romantic comedy, A Lot Like Love, is what used to be called a stinker. Amanda Peet plays a trollop named Emily, and Ashton Kutcher is a dim bulb named Oliver. Together, they manage to stay awake amid some of the year's worst blather.

A Lot Like Love begins in the 1990's when, after making eye contact while waiting for their flight to New York, punk rocker Emily follows grungy Oliver to the lavatory for an anonymous sexual encounter at a higher altitude. That's how the fling begins, so it's cheap from the get-go. The script—Colin Patrick Lynch's first—puts them in various situations over the course of seven years. It seems like seventeen.

After the plane lands in New York, Oliver is picked up by his deaf brother and his girlfriend—who is never heard from again—with a sign that reads LOSER but the joke is on us: Oliver is a loser. This dude is robbed, drunk and broke within the next few scenes. He plans to start a diaper business on the Internet, too, a subplot which is more interesting than the couple's trysts. Yet, if this guy cannot even snag a tramp like Emily, he sure as heck doesn't deserve $6 million in venture capital to sell diapers on the Web. He is too daft to be taken seriously.

But even cute but stupid Oliver is almost too efficacious to want a wreck like alcoholic Emily, who is as easy as two plus two. When she isn't plastered, she puts the moves on faster than Kinko's makes copies, using Oliver like a hustler for most of the movie, taking a photograph of them both in the nude‹a memory of their most intimate moment—and putting the photo up for sale. Oliver smiles with a vacant look upon discovering this invasion of his privacy, which would make them a perfect match, yet, following each inexplicable encounter, Oliver and Emily do not connect.

They never actually have conversations either, because, in this movie, love means never having to wipe the drool from your lover's toilet seat. Other jerky treats include open mouthfuls of junk food, objects up the nostrils and singing off key—and these are the supposedly romantic moments. During the tensest scene—when they're older and either one could put an end to the games and declare his or her love for the other—Oliver sticks out his tongue. It does not get any dumber than this.

Presumably crude enough to make the whim-worshipping, Potty Joke Generation laugh hysterically while serving up a slice of tasteless Cutesy Pie, A Lot Like Love is about people who twaddle along, choosing not to think, settling for less and hoping everything magically comes together (which, of course, it undeservedly does here). It is strictly for those to whom picking a partner is indistinguishable from picking a nose.

Note: FOR DUMMIES is a registered trademark of Wiley Publishing, Inc. in the United States and other countries.

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