Love Happens is a character-driven story about navigating the emotionally charged waters of loss, overcoming the fear-inducing obstacles that bob to the surface, and preparing for the inevitable calm after the storm. Dr. Burke Ryan, played by Aaron Eckhart, is a widower-turned-Tony Robbins-style self-help guru who needs a morning vodka on the rocks just to get through the day. Armed with his best-selling book on emotional recovery, he travels the country helping others cope with their losses, but in private struggles to cope with his own loss. When Burke arrives in Seattle to conduct a grief seminar for some very enthusiastic attendees, he meets Eloise, played by Jennifer Aniston, a quirky, free-spirited flower shop owner with the strange habit of writing random words on the wall behind paintings in hotel hallways. Intrigued, Burke decides to ask her out on a date, but she turns him down -- she's been on the relationship rollercoaster one too many times and has completely sworn off men. Still, after a heated confrontation laced with sexual tension, Eloise decides to give Burke a chance, and so the courtship begins. After a series of dates, including a rock concert seen from the rig of a borrowed telephone truck, a poetry slam at a hookah bar, and a midnight stroll through a cemetery, the beginnings of a relationship form, but can Burke trade his tragic past for a hopeful future?
Love Happens starts off interestingly enough, but looses the initial momentum achieved by writer/director Brandon Camp (John Doe) and quickly devolves into a weepy mess. Eckhart is convincing as the tragic psychiatrist-turned-successful author. With his tailored suits, perfectly coiffed hair, ultra-wide smile, and kind eyes, you feel like he can help you overcome any obstacle life throws at you, making it all the more jolting to see him struggle through his own pain, which borders on the melodramatic. Trekking through the rom-com jungle isn't exactly uncharted territory for Aniston, who's making a post-Friends career out of playing lovelorn thirtysomethings who are entirely unlucky in matters of the heart, but her "America's Sweetheart" persona doesn't translate well here, and the lack of chemistry between the two leads makes it hard to root for them in the end, especially when the love story is watered down by tragedy. Of course, the supporting cast -- of note, Judy Greer as the ever-supportive, sharp-tongued best friend and Martin Sheen as the tough-minded father-in-law -- inject a necessary amount of humor to the film, which helps keep things balanced, but if you're looking for a light-hearted romp you won't find that here. Love Happens is less about the budding romance between two people searching for acceptance and more about the impact that fear and guilt can have on a person's ability to be open to the possibility of love.
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- Released: 2009
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: Love Happens is a character-driven story about navigating the emotionally charged waters of loss, overcoming the fear-inducing obstacles that bob to the surface, and preparing for the inevitable calm after the storm. Dr. Burke Ryan, played by Aaron Eckhart… (more)