When Ashton Met Amanda
There is something very "When Harry Met Sally" about "A Lot Like Love" as it revolves around two people who over a period of 7 years meet up once in a while and go from being just acquaintances to friends and eventually fall for each other. It doesn't have those interview like segments but it does deliver the chapter like events from the initial meeting through to arranging to meet up when each of them go through a moment of crisis. And to be honest it's all pleasantly good fun, I say good fun as whilst "A Lot Like Love" is a romantic comedy it is more fun than laugh out loud funny and in fact it is when it is trying to be funny that it ends up feeling forced, weak and simply wrong.
On a flight from Los Angeles to New York Oliver (Ashton Kutcher - Guess Who) and Emily (Amanda Peet - Something's Gotta Give) hit it off, well in a moment of impulse they join the mile high club. But after spending the day together they go their separate ways as Emily playfully says there can be nothing more between them. But over the next 7 years they keep meeting up firstly when Emily needs a friend and then when Oliver needs one and they become the closest of friends. But whilst their feelings for each other grow stronger will their own pride and stupidity stop it from becoming anything more than just friends.
So as already mentioned "A Lot Like Love" follows a similar idea to "When Harry Met Sally" and so we enter the movie 7 years ago when Oliver and Emily meet on a flight and end up joining the mile high club, as you do if you are attractive strangers! What follows from that encounter is a friendship which forms and so 3 years later having spent a moment of time together Emily ends up calling Oliver up as she has been dumped. And so it goes on as then another 2 years on from then and we have Oliver getting in touch with Emily when his girlfriend leaves him because he has become a workaholic. All of which leads to them falling in love but with things going on in their lives and some misunderstandings it seems like they may never get together, although to be honest you know how it will all end up, "A Lot Like Love" would be too cruel to do anything other than deliver a happy ever after ending.
But what is pleasant is that all of these events link together nicely and so on that first meeting Oliver says that in 6 years he will have made it as an internet success story and so gives Emily the phone number of his parents so that she can phone up and see if he achieved it. And that nicely leads to Emily discovering the phone number in her address book when she is dumped and calling him up. But at the same time it builds on Oliver being an internet success as we learn that he is about to relocate to San Francisco with his online nappy business. It means that whilst "A Lot Like Love" is by nature episodic there is some great linkage to it all and when it comes to the final realisation that they are meant for each other all those little pieces come together.
Now the thing is that all of this is very pleasant and "A Lot Like Love" delivers a surprising amount of charm and some touching smile moments which draw you in to this friendship. A scene where Oliver and Emily take a photo at nigh time having pulled over from going for a drive is bordering on the beautiful whilst still being fun. But sadly there are times when for whatever reason director Nigel Cole tries to make things funnier than need be and when he does it becomes forced and cliche. It's the fact that it is just pleasantly good fun makes "A Lot Like Love" so much more charming than so many other romantic comedies.
And what is sort of ironic is that the romantic chemistry between Ashton Kutcher and Amanda Peet is pretty non existent, you don't feel for one minute a spark of love between them. But then you feel every ounce of the friendship, the able to talk, have fun and just pour out your soul comes across so brilliantly. And it's because it's so believable that Oliver and Emily end up as such good friends actually adds to the charm, allowing you to enjoy the time they spend together. As such in away Ashton Kutcher and Amanda Peet do a good job, yes when they are trying to be funny it is forced but there is also often a nice restraint to what they deliver and you warm to their characters.
What this all boils down to is that "A Lot Like Love" is a surprisingly enjoyable movie which works because it is pleasant and charming. It's by no means a great romantic comedy and when it's trying to be funny it ends up feeling forced. But the warmth which comes from the friendship between Oliver and Emily makes it work and draws you in even though you can predict how it will eventually all end up.