Another Ashton Kutcher picture that got a rather harsh reception upon release, I found that "A Lot Like Love" to be a rather pleasant little romantic comedy. It's not without some considerable flaws, mind you, but at least it tries to be something more than the usual film targeted at the late teen/20-something audience.
Directed by Nigel Cole ("Saving Grace", "Calendar Girls") and using Cole's "Grace" cinematographer, John De Borman (the "Hamlet" remake, "Serendipity"), "Love" isn't the kind of hyper, goofy picture that the advertising for the film would lead one to believe it is - it's actually a rather quiet little movie. Taking place over the course of seven years, the film stars off with Oliver and Emily (Ashton Kutcher and Amanda Peet) meeting when she's just been dumped by her boyfriend at the airport. He's been dumped off by her sister on his way to a flight to New York.
Needless to say, the two join the mile high club, with Emily grabbing Oliver as he checks to see if anyone's using the bathroom. So starts a romance that lasts through a tour of New York City, with both of them talking about what they want for the future. It turns out that neither of them are exactly in each other's plans, so they find themselves quickly apart. They meet up years later, and have another moment with each other, and again, and again.
I hate and, I emphasize, hate when movies weakly invent ways to keep the inevitable couple apart until towards the end of the movie. In this case, I have to give director Nigel Cole credit, as I was going along with the movie until the last third, where the movie seems to be making it up as it goes along, coming up with absurd ways to still keep the couple apart. The people that Emily and Oliver appear to be interested in between times when the two get together are so underdeveloped that calling them one-dimensional characters is being generous. The dialogue isn't great - "Movie Romance 101"-style stuff - but Kutcher and Peet do as best they can with the material.
Kutcher and Peet offer performances that aren't outstanding, but at least are good efforts. Peet has always been an actress able to easily move between drama and comedy - even slapstick - and she does so here quite adequately. Kutcher isn't as successful, but he's not bad, either. Both have a nice, easygoing chemistry with each other, and work well on-screen.
Overall, "A Lot Like Love" tries to be something a little more subtle than most of the similar pictures that are geared towards its target audience. While it succeeds in that, and offers a couple of nice performances, it can't quite get above a screenplay that's a bit cliched throughout and could have used work on its final third.
VIDEO: "A Lot Like Love" is presented by Buena Vista in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation was satisfactory, with some positives and minor negatives. Sharpness and detail were generally very good, as the picture appeared consistently crisp and nicely defined, but sharpness remained a bit short of exceptional.
The presentation didn't suffer from any major or really distracting faults, but some minor edge enhancement was seen, as well as some shimmer and a couple of trace instances of pixelation. On a positive note, the print looked about as good as can be expected for a new movie, with no specks, marks or other issues.
The film's lovely, natural color palette was nicely presented, with pleasing saturation and no smearing. Black level also appeared solid, and flesh tones were accurately shown.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation pretty much stuck to being a "comedy mix", with the majority of the audio spread out across the front speakers. Audio quality was fine, as the music, which includes a bunch of late 90's popular tunes - was dynamic and full-sounding, and dialogue came through clearly and naturally.
EXTRAS: Deleted scenes, a very funny gag reel, a music video from Aqualung, sneak peek trailers for other titles from the studio and finally, an audio commentary from director Nigel Cole, producer Kevin Messnick and producer Armyan Bernstein.
Final Thoughts: "A Lot Like Love" coasts along pleasantly enough on the chemistry between the two stars, at least for a while, until the last piece of the film throws together another way to keep them apart. The screenplay is at fault here, but the movie still manages to be a mostly pleasant enough romantic comedy/drama. Buena Vista's DVD edition provides fine audio/video quality, along with a nice helping of supplements. A light "date night" rental recommendation.