It’s a shame when movies try so earnestly to distinguish themselves from the debasement of the “B-movie” designation that they ruin a perfectly good idea.

“When In Rome”

At Quality 16 and Showcase
Touchstone

Such is the unfortunate plight of “When in Rome,” a collaboration between the writers of an eclectic array of screenplays (David Diamond and David Weissman, “The Family Man,” “Evolution” and “Old Dogs”) and the director of an eclectic series of movies (Mark Steven Johnson, “Daredevil” and “Simon Birch”). The resulting movie is something that simply doesn’t reflect the ambition of its creators.

In the film, Beth (Kristen Bell, “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”) is an awkward, hopeless romantic who dreams of one day finding a relationship that surpasses the superficiality of the affairs she observes on a daily basis. When she is abruptly snubbed by her umpteenth suitor — the witty, equally awkward Nick (Josh Duhamel, “Transformers”) — at her sister’s wedding, Beth removes the coins thrown by several other hopeless lovers from Rome’s famous “fountain of love” under the drunken assumption that she’ll save these people from a similar fate as her own.

When Beth inadvertently activates a curse that causes an array of men to fall deeply in love with her, however, she must quickly find a way to reverse the ill effects of the curse and repair her fragmented love life. Danny Devito’s performance as one of Beth’s suitors temporarily bolsters the movie’s comedic appeal as well.

The script and premise start with a grandiose effort, proclaiming a profound underlying meaning in their attempt to answer the age-old question: Does true love really exist outside of fantasy? It’s just too bad that a wannabe serious romantic drama ends with all the absurdity of a Kevin Smith flick — the beginning and end are too incongruous to belong to the same movie. Be forewarned that this experience won’t venture beyond the realm of the typically mediocre.

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