September 19, 2009
Review - " Love Happens " - (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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forcing them to confront their demons. The movie has its cake and eats it too here, convincing us that he's not just a slick,
cynical salesman, but that his snake oil actually has real bite.
Yet deep down, in an ironic-yet-obvious twist, he is unable to come to grips with his own pain, the death of his wife, which is
what the movie is about. Rather obviously, since Burke is supposed to have the answers for everyone else, he has none for
himself. "Love Happens" hits the hypocrite angle hard at first by having him knock back Grey Goose early and often, even
though he professes to be a teetotaler. The script even requires him to preach, "Alcohol is no more of a cure-all than a
Band-Aid on a bullet wound." He hasn’t even been able to talk to his late wife’s parents in the three years since her death.
He’s back, though, in Seattle, America’s scruffiest and most eccentric urban center and a perfect setting for this extremely
eccentric movie (which is, out of desperation no doubt being sold as a romantic comedy.)
Our hero, the hypocrite and Grey Goose keeper, is a highly functional specimen of American double-think, wherein
Americans routinely become gifted in the practice of curing others of everything that still torments themselves. Those who
can't do - teach.
Until, that is, he runs into Eloise, a Seattle florist who creates the flower arrangements at the hotel where Burke's Seattle
workshops are taking place. Both are apprehensive about falling in love again, which means that naturally they're meant to
do so with each other. But first, they must meet in an obligatory cute way (by physically bumping into each other in a hotel
hallway), then bicker ever-so briefly (the movie's awkward attempt at creating sexual tension) before settling into a boring
relationship over the few days he's in town.
Good romantic comedies feature two strong characters who are meant to be together but who are kept apart until the finale.
Director Brandon Camp gives no indication as to why these two are even compatible. Eloise is a florist who likes big words...
and why, exactly, does this appeal to Burke? Mainly because she's played by Jennifer Aniston. No other reason is apparent.
Eckhart has the meatier role as a half-healed trauma coach who's morose offstage, but infomercial-excited in the spotlight.
Eckhart is good at suggesting dark, moody notes beneath a charming veneer; more of those touches would have made
Meanwhile, Eloise falls in line with a
distressingly large number of Aniston roles.
She gets a chance to show a little zing off the
top in bantering with Eckhart but then she
winds up being the same sort of supportive
friend/girlfriend/wife she's played in movies
ranging from "Bruce Almighty" to "Marley & Me"
and "He's Just Not That Into You."
Aniston's performance is surprisingly guarded.
Their chemistry hovers around the "good
friends" level with little romantic ardor. "Love
Happens" is technically slick, with gorgeous
Seattle locations handsomely photographed.
The problem comes in the telling. Was it really
necessary to stop the movie halfway through
for a featurette-length Home Depot
commercial? The dramatic hook of the story
involves a secret that any viewer can see a
mile off. The film is a harmless time-waster
that could have been more.
Directed by: Brandon Camp
Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Jennifer Aniston, Dan Fogler, Judy Greer,
Martin Sheen, John Carroll Lynch
“Love Happens” isn’t entirely what this appealingly peculiar movie is
about. It’s more like “Death Happens.” Or, if it were a slightly more
toughminded movie, “Shit Happens.”
But then who’d ever have gone to see a movie called “Death
Happens?” That, though, is, I assure you, everything that’s truly
interesting about “Love Happens.” The love stuff is, by far, the least
of it, which is why Jennifer Aniston, quite rightly, gets second billing
to Aaron Eckhart in the movie.
The movie drags love into the proceedings with a notable lack of
passion and dedication. That’s because the movie is really about
death, and mourning, and grief, and guilt. And double-think as the
American way of life. And, fascinatingly, the degree to which the
recovery movement has had a walloping influence over American
entertainment of the last 15 years.
Eckhart stars as a motivational grief counselor who wrote his best-
selling book “A-OK” because he lost his wife in a car accident. He
was a high-dome psychologist, though (think Dr. Phil without the
ever-present aroma of cow droppings), so “A-OK” outlined his own
procedures for getting past the grief that crushed his soul. Burke
Ryan (Eckhart) is a suave marketing genius with a best-selling book
and several tied-in workshops all focused on helping people let go of
grief. He's masterful at talking people into taking his course and at