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Touchstone Home Video presents
"He took them before I first saw him, so he did make the first move."
DVD ReviewI'm not going to waste any time and go right on the record by saying that the name Ashton Kutcher on a marquee instantly takes that movie off of my must-see list. His goofy, childish mannerisms and acting style (which I mean very loosely) in projects like That '70s Show and Dude, Where's My Car? are just annoying and immature. However, Kutcher gave sophisticated moviegoers a glimmer of hope for his talent thanks to his surprising performance in The Butterfly Effect. 2005 brought A Lot Like Love to theaters, and critics responded with mostly favorable reviews. Still, audiences stayed far away from this romantic comedy, as they must like their Kutcher projects as dumb and empty as possible.
It's really a shame that more people didn't give this movie more of a shot during its theatrical run, as it is one of the more impressive romantic comedies of the last few years. The biggest surprise of all is that Kutcher and Amanda Peet (she did have more clout coming into this, at least) are the reason it's so good. The story does lose its way a bit near the 75-minute mark, but it rights the ship and gives us a very satisfying conclusion that avoids the sap and sentimentality that often mars this type of film.
Kutcher plays Oliver Martin, a young guy who is on his way to visit his deaf brother who has just started law school. On the plane, he catches the eye of Emily Friehl (Peet), who follows him into the bathroom and makes him a member of the "Mile High Club." They run into each other, spend the day together, and sparks fly. Through the years they come across each other again and again, but one of them (usually Oliver) almost always has to leave the other after a brief visit and romantic encounter.
Spanning more than seven years, Emily and Oliver's relationship centers on a bet that they made with each other during their first day together. Oliver bets Emily $50 that in six years his life will be set, with an excellent job and a house among other luxuries. But Emily can't wait that long and calls Oliver after only three years. The duo reunites, but Oliver is on the verge of starting the business that will hopefully ensure the win of their bet. Whether Emily will wait for him or not is only one of the romantic twists and turns, resulting in a satisfying future for both of these individuals.
The man at the helm of A Lot Like Love is director Nigel Cole, who has made some memorable, lighthearted British films in the past, including Saving Grace and Calendar Girls. This is a Hollywood picture, but it does have a similar feel to those films, with Cole using a shooting method that gives it a certain warmth. And Cole should receive accolades for the major accomplishment of making Ashton Kutcher look like a respectable actor.
Amanda Peet really steals this show, though, as her girl-next-door looks and down-to-earth personality instantly makes her a likeable screen presence as soon as she appears in any film. She's commanded audiences' attention in The Whole Nine Yards and Something's Gotta Give, but those were supporting roles. Here, Peet is given a rare chance to dominate with much of the screen time and she proves that, with the right role, she could eventually join the ranks of the highest paid young actresses like Kate Hudson and Reese Witherspoon. I'm not sure if Kutcher's aforementioned promise of good things to come will lead to any Oscars in his future, but to see Peet making an acceptance speech sometime in the next few years wouldn't be a stretch at all.
Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+
Image Transfer Review: This transfer is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, and is pretty much exactly what you would expect from a film that was in theaters mere months ago. Image detail is excellent and consistent, and sharpness is abundant. However, there is quite a bit more grain than was expected, and a few instances where a shimmer effect was noticeable.
Image Transfer Grade: B
Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is a pretty standard romantic comedy mix, with everything staying up front except for the pop music/adult contemporary soundtrack. There are some times, though, where the rears spring to life to allow a flying plane or roaring subway to travel across the sound stage. There isn't much bass, but the aforementioned dialogue is always easy to understand, regardless of the music or other sound effects.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
10 Other Trailer(s) featuring Flightplan, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Herbie: Fully Loaded, Aliens of the Deep, Dark Water, TV on DVD, Once and Again, ABC Daytime, Chicago: Collector's Series
5 Deleted Scenes
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director Nigel Cole, producer Armyan Bernstein, producer Kevin Messick
Packaging: Keep Case
Three and a half minutes of flubs are compiled in a blooper reel, which does feature some funny on-set mishaps.
Five deleted scenes are also here, running just over eight minutes, and not amounting to much that would have added anything of value to the film.
There's also a music video for Aqualung's Brighter Than Sunshine and a collection of "Sneak Peeks."
Extras Grade: C+
Final CommentsWith the myriad of below-average romantic comedies on DVD shelves these days, it's great to discover a little-seen gem like A Lot Like Love. Don't bother renting Hitch again; instead, enjoy a rare, solid performance by Ashton Kutcher, and another fine effort by blossoming star Amanda Peet. Touchstone Home Video's disc features above-average audio and video, and a few decent extras as well.
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