Blu-Ray Review: ‘Love Happens’ Epitomizes Dire State of Romantic Comedy

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CHICAGO – In the realm of lazy date movies, “Love Happens” achieves a sort of morbid grandeur. There isn’t a single original or authentic moment in all 109 minutes of the picture, which is so devoted to its formulaic structure that it often doesn’t make a lick of sense. People say and do things for no conceivable reason other than to create “crises” leading to “resolutions” leading to audience exasperation.

From “In the Company of Men” to “Thank You for Smoking,” Aaron Eckhart has made a career out of playing insincere SOBs, whose smarmy personas barely mask their corruptible nature. It doesn’t help that Eckhart’s character in “Love Happens,” self-help author Burke Ryan, looks exactly like the two-faced Harvey Dent. Yet Burke is supposed to be the real deal: a genuine do-gooder whose determination to help others emerged in the aftermath of his wife’s death. Blu-Ray Rating: 1.0/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 1.0/5.0

Perhaps Eckhart could’ve made this role convincing under the guidance of different filmmakers. Unfortunately, the script for “Love Happens” is as phony as the tacky backdrops. Though the film takes place during Burke’s three-day inspirational seminar in a Seattle hotel, the film was shot in Vancouver, thus forcing the filmmakers to self-consciously show off the Seattle landscape via green screen. This is most apparent during one of Burke’s laughably lame exercises, as he allows seminar guests to block two lanes of traffic while instructing them to describe what they see (honking horns, middle fingers, etc.). He then takes them up to the hotel roof, where the people are able to witness the beauty they were missing. Of course, things will always seem more pleasant when you aren’t blocking two lanes of traffic!

Jennifer Aniston phones in her trademark smile in Brandon Camp’s Love Happens.
Jennifer Aniston phones in her trademark smile in Brandon Camp’s Love Happens.
Photo credit: Universal Home Entertainment

Burke’s love interest is cynical florist Eloise (Jennifer Aniston), who he literally bangs into, “meet-cute-style.” Both Burke and Eloise are supplied with off-the-shelf comic relief who exist merely to comment on their relationship. Dan Fogler is Burke’s publicist Lane Marshall, who repeatedly exclaims, “I’m Lane Godda-n Marshall!” as if it will eventually get a laugh. Judy Greer is…let’s face it, Judy Greer, who’s far too talented to play the “best friend” role as many times as she has. It’s painful to see a wonderful character actor like John Carroll Lynch in the tired role of Walter, a workshop participant struggling to overcome the death of his son at a construction site. His tragic story inspires the wise and compassionate Burke to take him on a shopping spree at Home Depot. In the world of “Love Happens,” no act of kindness is committed without a little product placement thrown in for good measure.

Love Happens was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on February 2nd, 2010.
Love Happens was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on February 2nd, 2010.
Photo credit: Universal Home Entertainment

“Love Happens” is presented in 1080p High Definition (with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio), accompanied by English, Spanish and French audio tracks, and comes equipped with the standard BD-Live feature, “My Scenes.” Within the 13 minutes of deleted scenes are the remnants of a scrapped subplot that’s howlingly awful even by this movie’s standards. Aniston’s unfaithful ex (Joe Anderson) stalks Eckhart at the hotel and unsuccessfully tries to provoke him into a fistfight. He later shows up asking for relationship advice, and ends up crashing at Eckhart’s hotel room, before bidding Aniston farewell, revealing himself to be a changed man.

The disc also includes a brief featurette highlighting the excessive green screen effects, as well as feature commentary with writer/director Brandon Camp, co-writer Mike Thompson and executive producer Rick Solomon. Their methods for making Vancouver “feel like” Seattle are as unconvincing as their attempts to make Burke and Lane “seem like” they’re not just trying to make a buck. Camp and Thompson praise their producers for not asking them about inexplicable character motivations, such as why Eloise has the quirky compulsion to scribble obscure words behind picture frames. Of course, such a question would have forced the filmmakers to reflect on the inherent emptiness of their picture, where none of the characters’ actions have the least bit of meaning, apart from advancing the plot. “Love Happens” should be cut up to provide clips for erectile dysfunction commercials.

‘Love Happens’ is released by Universal Home Entertainment and stars Aaron Eckhart, Jennifer Aniston, Dan Fogler, Judy Greer, Martin Sheen, Frances Conroy and John Carroll Lynch. It was written by Brandon Camp & Mike Thompson and directed by Brandon Camp. It was released on February 2nd, 2010. It is rated PG-13. staff writer Matt Fagerholm

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