A Lot Like Love Nigel Cole

A Lot Like Love is a lot like standing on a dock watching a better movie sail away: you know you want to be there, but there's an ocean of standard practices standing in your way. There's nothing especially wrong about its tale of awkward Oliver (Ashton Kutcher) and feisty Emily (Amanda Peet), who enjoyed a moment of passion on a plane seven years ago that kicked off an on again/off again relationship that drags on for years. There are long stretches between their meetings, and despite being obviously made for each other they find a way to cut things off and drift for a while longer — a gimmick that might have led to some interesting complications if everyone involved weren't determined to ignore its formal possibilities. Though Kutcher and Peet have terrific chemistry, it's squandered on the usual meeting/cute mannerisms, which means the central device is essentially defeated — there's no real purpose for it beyond looking clever, so it winds up frustrating the standard genre pleasures, meagre though they are. The film isn't terrible, but it's well-crafted in a domestic sort of way that keeps it from being genuinely observant of the characters' behaviour; it announces character traits rather than exploring them and introduces plot points mechanically instead of inventing its own rationale. Appealing as the leads are, they deserve either a commitment to an idea or a commitment to genre, and the bad compromise on offer doesn't do the job. Extras include a joke-y commentary with director Nigel Cole and producers Armyan Bernstein and Kevin Messick that's good at pointing out small touches and big mistakes, a blooper reel, five deleted scenes, and a video for Aqualung's "Brighter than Sunshine." (Touchstone/Buena Vista)