BLOGS

<I>The Romantics</I>: Like the Worst Episode of <I>Dawson’s Creek</I> But Exponentially More Painful

Remember how Dawson's Creek got pretty unwatchable (more so than normal) for a while there towards the end? This really feels like that, and not just because the former Joey Potter is in it, but because everyone just seems like they came straight out of Capeside and landed in this post-college horrible nightmare. There is a group of friends who have a weird incestous relationship where they've all basically hooked up with each other at some point (aside from the brother and sister), some characters have purposefully weird names like Minnow and Tripler, Katie's character can't make up her mind (shocker!) and she has a best frenemy who is blonde with big boobs. And so there's not a creek, but they do spend the majority of the time by the ocean. Oh, and they all talk like they're sitting around discussing philosophy all the time, with big five dollar words and attempts to make frivolous things sound lofty and important, and Josh Duhamel's character recites poetry. It's all completely believable. I assure you.

A group of college friends dubbed The Romantics (so nicknamed because of their aforementioned pal swapping antics, which arguably aren't all that romantic and more something you'd expect on Bachelor Pad) have reunited for the wedding of Tom (Duhamel) and Lila (Anna Paquin). In the current configuration of their group, Jake (Adam Brody) and Weesie (Rebecca Lawrence) are engaged, Tripler (Malin Akerman) and Pete (Jeremy Strong) are married, while Laura (Katie Holmes) is single and still smarting from being dumped by Tom the day before he proposed to Lila. Also around are Lila's lushy brother Chip (Elijah Wood), who lusts after Laura; Lila's precocious, wedding-obsessed, quiet little sister Minnow (Dianna Agron); and mom Augusta (Candice Bergen) who is determined to make mother nature and a future son-in-law with a wandering eye yield to her demand for a perfect wedding.

Somehow, even though Laura and Tom dated for a long time (and continued to hook up after he got together with Lila), Lila has requested that her old college roomie be her maid of honor, because that's not going to be awkward or uncomfortable at all. Everyone tiptoes around the issue, though Laura does slip up during her toast at the rehearsal dinner and substitute her own name instead. Not to worry, though, because the other toasts are much more offensive, as these things normally are, and after the drunken dinner, the old pals (sans Lila, who is doing her elaborate nuptial eve ritual, which involves a face mask and having her bridesmaids tuck her in, because she's just obnoxious like that) grab booze and head out to the beach to talk old times. This soon leads to clothes being stripped off as they jump in the ocean. To further the plot, Tom swims off, leaving everyone to create search parties (by swapping spouses!) and heading off in opposite directions ostensibly to find Tom, but mostly to get more wasted. Chip goes with Laura, but soon passes out, Jake and Tripler end up stumbling to the main house doing drugs and getting... friendlier, and Pete and Weesie end up streaking. Naturally, Laura finds Tom under a tree and they fight about why he slept with her, and they talk about their dysfunctional romance and then eventually hook up (not much of a spoiler, since it seems inevitable from the minute they see each other... especially when you realize how uptight and grating Lila is). Then the problem becomes what to tell or not to tell to Lila.

It's predictable in the way that any romantic comedy is and features actors that are either underserved or totally miscast. Really, Wood, Brody and Akerman have maybe a collective 15 minutes of screen time here. They deserve better. And by the end, or maybe even the middle of the film, I'd really decided that all these characters -- aside from the passed-out Chip and the barely there Minnow -- were fairly reprehensible. I didn't care who got together with whom, because I really hated most of them. Laura and Lila are totally self-centered, the other girls are stereotypes (Tripler is failed actress doing drugs, Weesie is a nerdy girl trying to break out of her shell), the groomsmen might as well not even be there, aside from their role in the mild debauchery that happens, and Tom is just so bland and generic that I couldn't even begin to figure out why he has these two girls fighting over him.

But it isn't just the fact that it aspires and fails to be loftier than whatever dopey rom-com Katherine Heigl is in this week that irked me so much, it was the lack of attention to details. I spent a good hunk of the movie trying to suss out how, on a chilly evening (either early spring or late summer... hard to tell) Josh Duhamel managed to jump in an ocean with his suit on, and then only about a half hour later be completely dry, wearing the same clothes, sitting outside and not shivering. That, and the time line was completely confusing and seemed not to exactly line up with how the events unfolded. I know I shouldn't let little things like this get under my skin, but it really takes me out of a movie. And this one, which barely held my interest to begin with, needed all the help it could get. Trust me here, even if you like the cast, just go watch their other, better shows and movies instead. My fond feelings for Adam Brody led me to the theater, and it was a bad decision.

Let us know what you thought of the movie below, then check out our guide to this fall's other, hopefully better comedies and dramedies!

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