The arrogant title of this film says a lot more about its creators’ attitude toward their audience then one would hypothesize while walking into a theater playing it. The realization of that fact will come soon enough though, as the beginning of the film (arguably the best part), illustrates their biased opinion of human beings’ ways of expressing love. In the opinion of director Michael Lehmann (40 Days and 40 Nights) and screenwriters Karen Leigh Hopkins and Jessie Nelson, love is a forced emotion. The characters in this film love, because they must love. It is an ugly portrayal of the emotion, and while it could have been used as a way to challenge the audience with a controversial view, it is only there because that is seemingly an easier way for the filmmakers to portray the egotistical characters that fill this movie to the brink.
That is an unpleasant surprise considering the film is very pro-familial relationships. One of the few positives of the film is that the love between people in the same family, as fake as it is, is at least shown without much fear. There are great mother-daughter relationship possibilities that can be portrayed throughout the movie, but they are instead replaced by ugly, stereotypical moments that made me cringe over and over again. That can often happen when the filmmakers decide to stick by the rules of Hollywood while constructing families. Lehmann resorts to the over-bearing mother, the daughter who is a favorite in the family, the cliche sisters who are so different from each other you can’t believe they are related, and since this film wants to be ‘cool’ and ‘hip’ the parents are divorced!
The beloved Diane Keaton (by others, certainly not me) plays a single mother who has trouble expressing the right emotions toward her daughters and also toward the opposite sex (because of the divorce, you know) . She does not want her daughters, especially Milly (Mandy Moore) to make the same mistake she did so she controls her love life, down to trying to find the perfect boyfriend as defined by an internet website. What she inadvertently does is that she finds the perfect man for herself, even though she is definitely not ready for a relationship. The filmmakers inject this semi-serious script with piss-poor attempts at humor that fall flat or are way too over-the-top not to induce some sort of uncontrollable negative reaction from the audience.
Because I did laugh a lot. I laughed at the horrid worded prologue delivered with seriousness by Diane Keaton, even though the lines are some of the most predictable of this year. I think even Delta Farce has better dialogue. So after the overlong prologue by Keaton is over, we find ourselves with four of the most boring characters ever found in cinema. The only thing that kept me from going into a coma was Lauren Graham’s serious Maggie who is actually a pretty interesting character. Other than that though, there isn’t one scene worth mentioning in a positive way throughout the whole film. There are plenty of illogical scenes though that don’t belong in the film at all, or that were simply not thought out completely. At one point I asked myself if Uwe Boll was somehow professionally related to the production.
From the actors the worst offender is Diane Keaton. She should truly be ashamed of herself. Not since her character in Something’s Gotta Give have I been this annoyed by a single character in the film. Keaton is as far from method acting as it gets. She hams up the whole thing, seemingly trying too hard for a film that, based on its quality, she should have only considered for a paycheck. Mandy Moore is also terrible, which hurts me to say since she can do so much better than this (A Walk to Remember), but she is stuck in bitchy mode here and the fact that she has no less than three guys battling it out for her hints at the reason she agreed to do this film. You are hot Mandy, you don’t need to prove it to us on screen by playing characters like these. Gabriel Macht does a good job though, compared to the actresses in the film. He is appreciatively stoic and method. But it isn’t enough to cancel out all the bad acting observed in performances by such names like Piper Perabo who is instantly forgettable, Tom Everett Scott who plays the same character I’ve been watching him play for the past hundred years it seems like, and Stephen Collins who is a total cliche from beginning to end.
Talking about the technical aspects of the film should be met with ridicule, but I will do it anyway. David Kitay’s score is a total exercise in imitating Hans Zimmer’s superior score for The Holiday. it is too bad he even fails at doing that. The less said about Julio Macat’s absolutely ugly and boring cinematography, the better. Costume Design and Production Design seem to be non-existent in the movie as it looks like it was just filmed in a randomly scouted house, and the actors, especially Keaton wear whatever they want to wear.
Overall this film is not worth seeing even once. The horrid screenplay and the over-the-top acting take away the relatively interesting storyline. The filmmakers talk down to their audience Steven Soderbergh-style from the very first line in the film, and their message about love is wrong and is not even potently executed. I hope Michale Lehmann stays away from filmmaking for a while. That way it will be safe to enter theaters again without the feeling of oncoming dread in the form of a ‘romantic comedy’.