Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini

Love Happens

Love Happens
Aaron Eckhart and Jennifer Aniston

Rated: PG-13 
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: September 18, 2009 Released by: Universal Studios, Inc.

A rainy Seattle is the setting for the new tepid trifle of a romantic dramedy which stars Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight) and Jennifer Aniston (Marley & Me), the latter more charming than the former. At least it sets up some decent, scenic sightlines from the underrated city's landmarks.

What happens in this shameful tale of love involves Eckhart's widower, Burke whose book ("A-Okay") about handling loss turns him into a best-selling self-help guru. The kind of which have appeared in recent pics like Yes Man that have inspired folks like the Jim Carrey character.

Brandon Camp's familiar take on the genre sets up more comedic possibilities, but lets the melodrama bog things down. Burke's has cashed in on his wife's passing, but hasn't really confronted it. But, of course, he will during a week-long seminar in the city where Aniston's Eloise has made good in the floral business.

Their first meet-cute scene with some sign-language leads to some heated emotions before a connection slowly begins to form, even after Burke doesn't sell himself well on a first (dinner) date.

A triteness is just too much in the hypocrisy of Burke's motivational methods with folks like Walter (John Carroll Lynch) in the loss of his constructional-minded son with his own dark secret gradually revealed over the course of the film.

Eloise offers a perkiness, even for someone who's been hurt in another relationship, for the viewer, and especially Burke. These unlucky-in-love folks get a birds-eye view of a modern rock concert and get to know one another better oddly enough from odd, complex words written in obscure places.

Dan Fogler and Judy Greer have their moments as the obligatory people around Burke and Eloise, he as the manager on the verge of a big multi-media deal for the "A-Okay" man and she as Eloise's worker-friend who is a "slam" poet in clubs. Martin Sheen is the father-in-law able to put an albatross on Burke as evidenced from the book-signing early in the seminar.

Love Happens ambles along in its grief-stricken way with Aniston nicely doing a floral spin on her own persona and Eckhart doing the broken-hearted thing right out of the assembly line. Time is granted for a nocturnal graveyard visit and Bruce Lee's monument is on view before Eloise knows something isn't right when the dahlia (Eckhart was more convincing in The Black Dahlia) comes up during a conversation.

While Eckhart has more screentime than Aniston (who did well opposite a stalking Steve Zahn in the indie Management earlier this year), there's little spark between them, even when someone like Eloise keeps the cards that are sent with flowers. What is read from one of the cards and some quips from the motivational jingo have more to it. And, in the most amusing scenes, a parrot (actually a cockatoo) named Rocky which delivers the best line in the movie.

  Frank Chris Jim Nina Sam Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
Love Happens        C-               C   C- 

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