A Lot Like Love (2005) / Romance-Drama

MPAA Rated: PG-13 for sexual content and language
Running time: 107 min.

Cast: Ashton Kutcher, Amanda Peet, Ty Giordano, Kathryn Hahn, Gabriel Mann, Kal Penn, Taryn Manning, Josh Stamberg, Jeremy Sisto, Aimee Garcia, Ali Larter, Melissa van der Schyff
Director: Nigel Cole
Screenplay: Colin Patrick Lynch
Review published April 25, 2005

A Lot Like Love is a lot like other romantic comedy-dramas, where two people keep meeting over the years, but for some reason they just can't get it together.  Fate is just not on their side.  Seven years ago, Oliver (Ashton Kutcher, The Butterfly Effect) and Emily (Amanda Peet, Melinda and Melinda) join the mile high club while on a flight to New York, after they exchange glances and before they exchange names.  The two spend a little quality time together, but they are not quite compatible at that time, but do place a bet that Oliver is going to be successful in his internet business venture six years from then.  Cut to Los Angeles three years later, and it is Emily calling up Oliver, although she is still stuck on her previous relationship, while he moving to San Francisco to develop his company fully.  While the two aren't able to get in synch, they are still intrigued by each other, and wonder whether it would work if they can ever get their lives aligned. 

Although billed as a romantic comedy, A Lot Like Love plays the serious card most of the running time, so if you're looking for madcap hijinks or a dumb Ashton Kutcher slapstick vehicle, this is not the flick for you.  While there are a few too many serendipitous occurrences and contrived turns of events, taken for what it is, there are enough strong moments to bring a smile to the face of viewers looking for a good date movie. 

As with his recent romantic comedy, Guess Who, Kutcher has come into his own as a leading man, showing a sweet vulnerability that feels genuine enough to make the romantic elements work, even if the situations aren't always working to his advantage.  Both he and costar Amanda Peet are in fine form in showing the maturation of their characters over the years, and one does get the impression that the two have grown to care for one another despite having to move on as soon as they get together.

While A Lot Like Love is too predictable in its story and formulaic in its delivery to be called a genuinely good film, it does work well enough to deliver the goods for people looking for a romantic story that blends some laughs and interesting looks at the difficulty of relationships.  They say in comedy, it's all about the timing, and that definitely can be said to hold true with love as well.  Although as a genre movie, it adheres all too strictly to form, it has a sincerity that does service to the story, with characters that are refreshingly flawed, trying hard to get their lives together, but realizing that life doesn't always work that way.   Like the theme of the movie, it's a lot like many other love stories you're seen before, but with good chemistry and some surprisingly smart and profound moments, A Lot Like Love manages to overcome conventions with infectious charm and underlying sweetness.

Qwipster's rating:

2005 Vince Leo