When in Rome (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 6, 2010 by  

Kristin Bell and Josh Duham do quite well when onscreen together but with the various amount of goofball characters stealing screentime from these two characters, “When in Rome” is a lackadaisical romantic comedy at best.

Images courtesy of © Disney. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: When in Rome

DURATION: 91 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:35:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound, Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

COMPANY: Touchstone Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13 (Some material may be inappropriate to children under 13 for some suggestive content)

RELEASE DATE: June 15, 2010

Directed by Mark Steven Johnson

Written by David Diamond and David Weissman

Producer: Rikki Lea Bestall, Gary Foster, Mark Steven Johnson, Andrew Panay, Ezra Swerdlow

Co-Producer: Enzo Sisti, Kim H. Winther

Associate Producer: Joseph E. Iberti

Music by Christopher Young

Cinematography by John Bailey

Edited by Ryan Folsey, Andrew Marcus

Casting by Kathleen Chopin

Production Design by Kirk M. Petrucelli

Art Direction by John Kasarda, Stefano Maria Ortolani

Set Decoration by Diane Lederman

Costume Design by Sarah Edwards


Kristin Bell as Beth

Joshn Duhamel as Nick

Anjelica Huston as Celeste

Wil Arnett as Antonio

Jon Heder as Lance

Dax Shepard as Gale

Alexis Dziena as Joan

Kate Micucci as Stacy

Peggy Lipton as Priscilla

Danny DeVito as Al

Don Johnson as Beth’s Dad

Luca Calvani as Umberto

Keir O’Donnell as Priest

Bobby Moynihan as Puck

Kristen Schaal as Ilona

Judith Malina as Umberto’s Grandma

An ambitious young New Yorker (Kristen Bell), disillusioned with romance, takes a whirlwind trip to Rome where she defiantly plucks magic coins from a fountain of love, inexplicably igniting the passion of those who threw them in: a sausage magnate (Danny DeVito), a street magician (John Heder), an adoring painter (Will Arnet) and a self-admiring model (Dax Shepard). But
when a charming reporter (Josh Duhamel) pursues her with equal zest, how will she know if his love is the real thing?


Actress Kristin Bell has had her fair share of comedy roles on film.  From films such as “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”, “Fanboys” and “Get Him to the Greek”, Bell plays the lead role in the Touchstone Pictures film “When In Rome”.

The film is directed by Mark Steven Johnson (“Ghost Rider”, “Daredevil”, “Simon Birch”) and a screenplay by writing duo David Diamond and David Weissman (“Old Dogs”, “Minutemen”, “The Family Man”).  Cinematography is by John Bailey (“He’s Just Not That Into You”, “Mad Money”, “The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants”) and music by Steven Young (“The Saboteur”, “The Informers”, “Spider-Man 3”, “Ghost Rider”).

Although the film received lackluster reviews from the film critics, the film did pull in over $37 million in the box office.

The film revolves around NY-based, Guggenheim art curator Beth Martin (played by Kristin Bell), her love life is not going so well and each man she falls for, they find love elsewhere.   Her job at the museum is becoming stressful as her boss Celeste (played by Anjelica Huston, “The Addams Family” films, “The Royal Tenenbaums”, “The Grifters”) is expecting her to bring in an important item to her upcoming exhibit and it’s a project that the museum is expecting a big return.

So, stressed out about her job and her love life, Beth receives news from her younger sister Joan that she is getting married in Rome to an Italian man she has only known for two weeks and wants her sister to be there for her at the wedding.  Facing a major deadline, a warning from her boss that she is replaceable and having to trust her bumbling assistant Stacy (played by Kate Micucci, “Nick and Norah’s Infinity Playlist”), Beth leaves to Rome for two days in order to be there for her sister.

While at the wedding, she meets the groom’s best man Nick (played by Josh Duhamel, “Las Vegas”, “Transformers” films), both seem to hit off very well and Beth finds herself attracted to him.  But when she sees a woman kissing him, Beth feels that she has lost another guy that she’s attracted to.  Upset, and now drunk, Beth heads to the “Fountain of Love” in which she cries out her lack of success in finding love and how she doesn’t believe in the fountain in finding love for people.  She then goes to pick up coins inside the fountain and immediately we see a transformation for several men which include sausage magnate (played by Danny DeVito, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, “Taxi”), a street magician (played by Jon Heder, “Napoleon Dynamite”, “Mama’s Boy”, “Blades of Glory”), a painter (played by Will Arnett, “Arrested Development”, “30 Rock”) and a wannabe model (played by Dax Shepard, “Parenthood”).

Meanwhile, when Beth returns back home in New York, life seems to have changed as she notices that Nick wants to go out on a date with her but all of a sudden these four other men are all vying for her attention in a unique number of ways. The sausage magnate Al is trying to sponsor her event, magician Lance finds ways to break into her apartment to impress her with his magic, Antonio painting nude murals of Beth and model Gale taking off his clothes in order to use his body and tries get her attention.

Freaked out by all this, she explains to her sister what is happening and her sister and her husband tell Beth that by taking the coins from the “Fountain of Love”, she has now created a spell in which these men have fallen for her and the only way she can break the spell is by returning the coins back to the Fountain of Love.

But because she has this deadline at work, she is unable to go to Rome and now must deal with these men stalking her.  To make things worse, she finds herself falling in love with Nick but while at her place, she finds a poker chip that resembles the same chip she took from the Fountain of Love and is convinced that Nick only loves her because he’s hooked on a spell.

Will Beth be able to break the spell and will she ever find true love?


“When in Rome” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:35:1).  The picture quality is quite vibrant in this film.  Colors tend to showcase earthtones and blues but for the most part, the film looks gorgeous especially during Beth’s trip to Rome.  The only thing is that during closeups, I was expecting to see more detail but overall, the picture quality is very good for this film.


“When In Rome” is featured in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA and French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound.  Although the film is dialogue and music driven, there is a good use of surround sound for crowd ambiance and especially near the end when the thunderstorms hit New York City.  But for the most part, dialogue is clear from the center channels and music from the front channels are dynamic and definitely sounds great via lossless.

Subtitles are presented in English SDH, French and Spanish.


“When in Rome” comes with the following special features presented in 1080p High Definition, English 2.0 or 5.1 and subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.  Include are the following:

  • Alternate Opening & Ending – (7:17) The alternate opening and ending which really would have made this film drag.  I’m glad these two were not used.
  • Crazy Casanovas: Mischief From The Set – (12:28) We meet our hilarious cast and crew that brought this film to life.  The director and cast talk about filming with other staff members, the making of the “Fountain of Love” and more.
  • Extended Scenes: Pain With the Suitors – (2:39) Featuring extended scenes for: A Torture Artist, A Total Shock, A Force of Nature.  Featuring the suitors (artist, magician and model) being introduced at the Guggenheim.  More like deleted scenes than extended scenes.
  • Kerplunk! Bloopers From Rome – (3:07) See the cast’s bloopers & blunders on the set of the film.
  • Deleted Scenes – (7:45) A total of eight deleted scenes.
  • Music Video:  “Starstrukk” by 3OH3! Featuring Katy Perry
  • Music Video: “Stupid Love Letter” by Friday Night Boys


On the main menu, click on Bonus Features and you will see a poker chip at the bottom of the screen. Scroll all the way down with your remote and click on the poker chip.   You will access the easter egg “The craziest thing you did for love” in which the guys of the film talk about the craziest things they did for love. (Duration: 1:11)


“When in Rome” comes with a cardboard slip cover.

“When in Rome” is a romantic comedy that has its times of beauty and fun but its underachieving plot and cliche-filled, farfetched storyline makes the film more silly than enjoyable.

If there is one thing we learned from Kristin Bell films, she has appeared in comedies but here characters are are not known to deliver the comedy. For “When in Rome”, Bell does a great job alongside Duhamel.

The problem is that their characters are not utilized as much into the screenplay as one would hope and the story keeps shifting to all these other characters that the comedy becomes fine for the first half but then becomes overly lame for its second half.

One scene features both Beth and Nick on their first date going to a restaurant that is pitch black with only the employees sporting night vision goggles.  What could have been an enlightening dinner, becomes a mess.  Who in their right mind, would want to go to a restaurant with no lighting.  I’m sure the writers could have come up with something much better.

As for the comedy, bringing the comedy are Josh Duhamel who tries to bring some of that vaudeville style of comedy as a former football athlete who was struck by lightning and now a journalist.  For a guy so suave and reserved, it’s hard to believe he is very clumsy.  Granted, Duhamel shows he can do comedy but for most of the film, the writers tease the viewer to thinking he has a chance, he doesn’t have a chance and keeps switching back and forth.  As mentioned, it would have been great if the film had focus on the two major characters but instead, we have to watch Beth deal with four goofballs.

As for the suitors (the goofballs), I expected to see a bit more perversion from Danny DeVito (who shows us that he can do so much more on “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”) and Dax Shephard who typically plays comedy-based roles without a name, gets to play the wannabe model who’s only major ad campaign was for gas relief.  Catching your attention is Jon Heder as the creepy magician as the “Napoleon Dynamite” star is reunited with Efren Ramirez who plays his videographer Juan and literally a character similar to his “Napoleon Dynamite” character Pedro.  And then there is Will Arnett as the Italian artist who keeps painting or drawing nudes of Beth.  Once again, the laughs are good but with Kristin Bell playing the character of “Sarah Marshall” in two films and you see comedy being pushed to another level, I suppose I was expecting to see DeVito strip down (like the “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” special) or to see something far out and unexpected.  Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.

Interesting enough, aside from Efren Ramirez having a guest role, we also see Don Johnson playing Beth’s father, Shaquille O’Neal and Lawrence Taylor in the film.  Fortunately, O’Neal and Taylor’s role were quite limited.

If anything, I felt that aside from the beautiful location shots, “When In Rome” suffers from too many characters with a script that doesn’t utilize them effectively.  Personally, “When in Rome” could have easily been a much more interesting film without the suitors and focused on “fate” between Beth and Nick.

Sure, it’s contrived and cliche but it could have been better than what we are given in this screenplay.  And if you watched the alternative opening and ending, you won’t believe what else the writers had planned for this film.   In fact, if anything, I felt that there was more vitality at the music number used for the credits than what we see in the entire film.

Overall, “When in Rome” is an OK romantic comedy if one wanted to watch a film with a significant other to pass time.  The  Blu-ray does have a good amount of special features but in the end, the film was lackadaisical romantic comedy at best.

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