Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.

Arts and Entertainment

Movie Review: Love Happens

Support your source for local news!
Today, put a dollar value on the trustworthy reporting you rely on all year long. The local news you read here every day is crafted for you, but right now, we need your help to keep it going. In these uncertain times, your support is even more important. We can't hold those in power accountable and uplift voices from the community without your partnership. Thank you.

I imagine that most people expect Love Happens to be one of those relatively innocuous romantic comedies that is populated by very particular characters whose lives and actions hit certain beats at specific times. I mean, there's a formula for this stuff that works for many people despite that fact that it's almost oppressively familiar. What's interesting about Love Happens -- and the reason that the movie ultimately fails -- is that it discards that traditional formula and tries to do something different. Unfortunately, the result is an ill-conceived mess, but I do accord the movie some respect for at least trying to stray from that well-worn path.

Of course, if you've seen any of the commercials for Love Happens you would think that it was one of those relatively innocuous rom-coms. There's Jennifer Aniston smiling, Aaron Eckhart laughing and the background music and narration is, you know, that typical "romantic comedy" background music and narration. Seeing those ads, you would have no idea how, well, gloomy most of the film really is. I mean, the romance between Aniston and Eckhart is closer to a sub-plot than the main plot, and all of the other sub-plots are essentially about dealing with death. Be it the death of a wife or of a child, it's mostly death, death, death.

Except when it's not which is what's so jarring about the film. There is a long and great tradition in cinema where the absurd and the serious are given equal play in a film, but striking that balance is extraordinarily difficult. In Love Happens it comes across as clumsy and forced. A story strand at the end of the film involves the kidnapping of a parrot from the home of a dead woman's bereaved parents (seriously). It's played broad and for laughs. Then a moment later, the parrot is released into the wild and the expectation from the film is that the audience will react to the poignancy of the moment and weep knowing tears. Except you just giggle.

Perhaps the greatest indicator of how silly the film really is occurs at the (presumed) climax of the film. I won't spoil what happens, but I will say this: the filmmakers use -- I shit you not -- the device of the slow clap. Now, the slow clap has been a cliche since, oh, 1988. These days, it's mostly played for laughs in films that poke fun at what an awful cliche it really is. Except Love Happens plays it straight. One is expected to burst into tears at this seminal moment when all barriers finally break down, the truth is revealed and the slow clap begins. I laughed. I laughed a lot. But never at the right parts. That should tell you all you need to know.

Support for LAist comes from

Love Happens opens today.

Most Read