In Brandon Camp’s Love Happens, Dr. Burke Ryan (Aaron Eckhart), a widower and well-known self-help guru, arrives in Seattle for one of his sold-out seminars, compassionately pushing simplistic notions of self-actualization and improvement to a defeated audience only to be captivated by a free-spirited florist, Eloise (Jennifer Aniston), who oddly harbors a fascination with large, complex words. Burke, author of the book A-Okay, attempts to romance the bouquet maker, despite the lingering memory of the car crash that killed his wife and paralyzed his emotions, and as the hypocrisy of his often-spouted lemonade metaphors and motivational words reveals itself, he breaks down, ultimately crumbling during one of his seminars. Eckhart operates on cruise control, but the performance can’t be helped as the screenplay is insincere (the awkward encounter with his father-in-law feels particularly artificial) and the overall tone of the film is inconsistent, sometimes within a single scene: When Burke ridiculously frees his deceased wife’s caged parrot, the moment quickly turns from absurd (the bird jumps around in a circle amusingly chasing him) to reflective (he races back to the bird, sadly watching it take flight). Although billed as a lead, Aniston feels more like a supporting player, as her Eloise is merely a stitched-together composite of past characters she’s played in similar subpar fare. Judy Greer, who plays Eloise’s shop assistant, is unfortunately wasted in a sidekick role, and Martin Sheen turns in another phoned-in routine as the dead wife’s still-grieving father. I applaud Camp for trying to transcend the standard rom-com with a character-study bent, but poor execution renders Love a misfire.
- Universal Pictures
- 109 min
- Brandon Camp
- Brandon Camp, Mike Thompson
- Aaron Eckhart, Jennifer Aniston, Judy Greer, Martin Sheen, Dan Fogler, John Carroll Lynch, Francis Conroy
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