Keeping it real here, I totally went to see this movie with a chip on my shoulder and didn't give it a fair chance. I saw the God-awful commercials and trailers for it and couldn't possibly have been more sure that it was going to be a festering bowl of formulaic feces. I mean come on! The title alone sucks. "Love Happens?" What the hell does that even mean? Isn't the saying "Sh*t Happens?" I don't like it when I'm wrong, so good thing that my instinct about "Love Happens" was only partially true. This movie staring Aaron Eckhart ("The Dark Knight," "Thank You for Smoking") and Jennifer Aniston is almost as cookie-cutter as a movie can get, but it's not terrible. It's also a little misleading. It's not the gushy romantic comedy that one would be led to believe it is. It's simply a story of a Self-Help Motivational Speaker who meets a fun, free-spirit and finds out that he's the one who needed the help. It's a plot that's been told time and time again. But it was darker than I thought it would be. It deals mostly with death and letting go of loved ones. Not your typical story for a late summer estrogen party. I'll admit that there were even moments that had me tear up. However most of the sobbing in the audience came from the WAY overly melodramatic ending that, for me, flirted with the edge of ridiculous. But one of the more moving parts of the movie was one of the smallest and it involves a secondary character named "Walter" who's played by character actor John Carroll Lynch. The all-male creators of this movie would hope that the comedy side would be carried on the stereotypical sidekick characters of Eckhart's chubby agent and Aniston's hippie co-worker. Even though these parts are played by the moderately talented Dan Fogler ("Fanboys") and Judy Greer ("27 Dresses," "The Village") they fall WAY short of making me laugh more times than I can count on one hand. But I need to repeat that the movie isn't bad and serves its purpose. I didn't think that I was going to see Oscar magic, original content or hell, even anything closely related to a good movie. But what I saw was harmless, sweet and simple. And because I was thrown the curveball of actually feeling something during the movie (for however brief it was) I gotta give it credit considering the state of mind I was in when I sat down.
Love Happens (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: B-