Love Happens Review: We Wish It Hadn’t
To solely blame Hollywood for the mass proliferation of the ‘unachievable romantic ideal’ is missing the point somewhat.
While every Oprah audience member, 50 year-old whiskey-glugging, pee-stained cat obsessive, and tabloid dating columnist might like to suggest that the media has deceived us all into expecting a romantic ideal that isn’t ever quite achievable (seriously – Patrick freakin’ McDreamy Dempsey? – how the hell are men supposed to match up to that, or women to ever find it?!), the fact is that on some basic level everyone wants to be loved.
For that reason alone, the tried and tested romcom formula will always exist and flourish. Cynic or not, finding a Prince Charming or Princess Horny/Housewivey is still the baseline goal for a large portion of the population.
Love Happens is Brandon Camp’s attempt to bring something new and far more mature to proceedings. Unfortunately by grounding it in the harsh, moribund realities of life, the end result manages to be the most turgid, uninspiring and ultimately boring tale that focuses on possibly the greatest thing life has to offer (well, apart from drunken ostrich-racing).
Dr Burke Ryan is a self-help guru who has made a successful career in psychobabble books and seminars by talking through the tragic death of his wife. Eloise is a quirky, artistic flower arranger who has been burnt by men one too many times. After a rocky start, the two try to teach other how to overcome their own preconceptions and self-doubt when it comes to opening up and letting go of the past.
With death and emotional maturation such fundamental staples of the story, it’s almost a misnomer to label it a romcom. Just as things start to flirt-alise, we’re back in one of Ryan’s depressing, weepy group-hug sessions. The constant back and forth between despair and schoolboy-esque ‘ooh I think she likes me’ excitement never really melds, and as such we’re stuck in a weird quagmire of confusing, poe-faced tonality.
To be honest, you could shove Jennifer Aniston and Aaron Eckhardt into a Hollyoaks episode and they could probably manage to bring some degree of pathos to proceedings, so it’s unsurprising to find they’re the best thing here. Their chemistry is certainly sincere, but with few ‘magic’ moments to work from, the connection we’re craving never really hits the heights of true romance.
Taking a freshly angled stab at a well-worn genre is a commendable thing, yet while (500) Days of Summer rejuvenated and electrified the genre, and proved that the romcom can still work outside of the trappings of the stereotypical genre tropes, Love Happens doesn’t possess enough originality or creativity to succeed.
If this is what occurs when Love Happens, we’ll stick to the life of the whiskey-glugging, pee-stained catlady.
For this year’s best romcom take a gander at our review of (500) Days of Summer. If you’re craving a little more cheese, read our review of The Proposal or Ricky Gervais’ latest The Invention of Lying…..