Poor old Judy Greer.
The name might not mean much but you'd recognise her. Cast your mind back to a host of 'dorky best friend' roles (27 Dresses, 13 Going On 30, Elizabethtown) and that's Judy. A brilliantly talented actress for sure - but up against a Heigl or Garner, she'll always be the bezzy mate instead of the lead. The shame is, she'd nearly always be more interesting to watch than her big name co-star.
Now it's Jennifer Aniston she's out-acting in the winsome Love Happens; a film where, in essence, Not Much Happens.
Here's the plot. Janiston is a Seattle florist called Eloise (have I lost your already?) who meets self-help guru Burke (Aaron Eckhart) in the city hotel where he's staying and where she arranges the flowers. As he's still recovering from his wife's death in a car crash he's not much of a date but hey, they still hang out over the few days he's there, running courses in bereavement counselling.
That's it really.
Whilst the performers struggle with a script that can't decide if it's meant to be funny or not, we're sat there in the audience ticking off the cliches and twiddling our thumbs waiting for the obvious loose ends to be tied up so we can get home. Essentially, Burke just needs to get his head around his own loss. I never thought that the 109 mins it takes could feel so long.
Eckhart, we know, is a strong performer but his cool seriousness as an actor makes for hard viewing in a film that's supposed to be warmly melting hearts. Janiston is...well... the same as Janiston ALWAYS is. She's kooky in a way that only chick flick characters are:
1. She likes gardening in her chunky knits (see also Andie McDowell in Green Card).
2. She graffitis long intellectual words on hotel walls, then hides them under hanging pictures, for people to discover. KOOKY ALERT (and a watered-down version of Audrey Tatou's quirky Amelie).
3. Her life is soundtracked by weedy soft rock music, including 'This Time Around' by Helen Stellar that was also used in Cameron Crowe's Elizabethtown. Which also featured Judy Greer. You'd be right in thinking at this point that Love Happens is a wannabe Crowe type of film, a laid back romance where plot is secondary to charm.
It fails. Why? Because Love Happens, like its bland title, is as beige and boring as its lead actress. It meanders around stereotypes and cliches for nearly two hours only to give us, as a payoff, ANOTHER of those scenes where everything is resolved in front of an audience (in this case, the audience for Burke's self-help seminar) who proceed to applaud when the leads have finally blurted out their true feelings in front of everyone.
In other words, like all the supposed 'new and exclusive' stories on Jansiston that mags around the world publish every week, this actually has nothing new. That's not the end of the world for a genre movie, I admit. But when it doesn't have a glint of sparkle to compensate either, well... At least this kind of film will always have one thing going for it.