I’m going to do something a little different for this segment--two reviews for the price of one! Double your money’s worth! I hadn’t planned on doing this, but the two films I viewed this weekend-“When In Rome” and “Up In The Air” work into this perfectly.

Both of the pictures are what could be considered Romantic Comedies.
“Rome” stars the lovely Kristen Bell, and “Up In the Air”-the handsome and suave George Clooney.

Both of the leads love their jobs more than anything else in the world. Both find love in unexpected places. So far, either of these movies sounds perfect for “date night”. But here is some important advice—stay home and avoid “When In Rome” and instead rush out and see “Up In The Air”.

There is nothing excruciatingly atrocious about “When in Rome”; it just isn’t a very good movie. Predictable dialog, one dimensional characters, and wasted scenery make it a “Wait For The DVD” kind of film. This is one of those films that are written from the handbook of weak romantic comedies—boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy pursues girl and almost gets her but things are messed up by accident, and finally, boy gets girl. We’ve seen this movie a hundred times over.

Unlucky in love Kristen Bell falls for hunky Josh Duhamel in Rome, and of course, things don’t immediately work out. She steals some coins from a fountain of love, and all heck breaks loose as the owners of the coins romantically pursue her. The mixed bag of suitors is the best part of the film, and brings the most laughs.

Eventually they both realize their love and become a couple. Blah, blah, blah.

The trouble with films of this sort is there is nothing real about the characters-nothing to intimately connect with. They are just playing roles that are limited in range by their one-sentence character descriptions. The same goes for the plot-strictly by the numbers. If you are o.k. with light TV sitcom-type characters and weak plots, you might find this movie slightly amusing.

On the other hand, “Up In The Air” is a wonderful movie that is a joy to watch. This film has substance, real characters, subtle acting, and unexpected twists. It is a very original, likeable, and sometimes sad film, that also has some great romance in it. The biggest difference is the script. Co-written by director Jason Reitman, “Up In The Air” follows the adventures of Ryan Bingham, played by George Clooney, as he travels around the country firing people. He’s great at his job, and loves the orderly routine of traveling from city to city with all the perks it brings him. But this film is also about an empty man wanting to make a connection. It’s about loyalty, and what’s really important in life.

All the actors are fantastic in their roles, especially the two female leads-Vera Farmiga as the love interest, and Anna Kendrick as the eager fresh-faced newcomer to the firm. When you watch this film, you feel as is you are eavesdropping in on real people’s lives-totally different from the hollow characters from “When In Rome”.

So-two romantic comedies to choose from-one extra light and watered down, and one with some real substance that touches your soul. My recommendation? Go see “Up In The Air”—you won’t be disappointed.

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