- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 20, 2005

It would be a snap to blame the sparkless “A Lot Like Love” on its dippy stars, Ashton Kutcher and Amanda Peet.

But any romance in which the leads stick objects in their noises, show each other their partially chewed food and engage in public spit-fights never had a chance.

“Love,” directed by “Calendar Girls’” Nigel Cole, introduces us to two young adults who keep running into each other over a seven-year span without realizing they’re made for each other. Alas, the story’s stagnant plotting makes us feel like the seven years elapsed in real time.

It’s a cross between “Same Time, Next Year” and “When Harry Met Sally,” without the intrigue of the former or the observational whimsy of the latter.

Our couple meets, or rather fornicates cute aboard an airplane, but the film offers little reason to believe they are destined to be together — beside the fact they’re both ultra-attractive.

They renew their staggered courtship every few years, conveniently running into each other whenever one or the other has just been dumped.

Even the romantic clincher hinges on a principle the flippant authors of “The Rules” would find beneath them.

Miss Peet’s brittle beauty works against her here, and Mr. Kutcher, in the more sympathetic role, proves a good sport, if little else.

You know a movie hasn’t a clue when it has Mr. Kutcher’s character defending his ability to attract women in one belabored sequence.

Folks, the guy looks like Ashton Kutcher. ‘Nuff said.

And if the film lets Miss Peet wake up after a torrid night of drinking with her makeup intact, you know it’s not paying attention to the bigger details, either.

“A Lot Like Love” is like an excruciating “Blind Date” episode without those pop-up zingers to relieve the inanity.

*1/2

WHAT: “A Lot Like Love”

RATING: PG-13 (Sexual situations, strong language and adult themes)

CREDITS: Directed by Nigel Cole. Written by Colin Patrick Lynch

RUNNING TIME: 97 minutes

WEB SITE: http://alotlikelove.movies.go.com

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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