• FILM

  • SEARCH FOR

Love Happens

Love Happens

Directed by Brandon Camp. Starring Jennifer Aniston, Aaron Eckhart, Dan Fogler, Martin Sheen, John Carroll Lynch, Judy Greer, Frances Conroy. (2009, PG-13, 107 min.)

REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., Sept. 25, 2009

Love Happens? It depends on your definition of “love.” And “happens.” There isn’t much of either in this predictable, putzy drama about a self-help guru who specializes in grief counseling even though he himself has hardly recovered from his wife’s accidental death three years prior. On the cusp of signing a deal that would rocket-launch his practice – and his branding – into the Dr. Phil stratosphere, Burke (Eckhart) must first weather a weeklong seminar in Seattle, the place of his wife’s death. There, he meets Eloise (Aniston), a local florist who takes a shine to Burke. Eckhart – so blond! so square-jawed! – could have been a Fifties matinee idol, but he only pops when he’s sharpened by cunning or menace (Thank You for Smoking, In the Company of Men); here, playing a deeply literal character, he’s a soggy bore. Aniston, in the far smaller role, overplays her screen time: She can’t even read the dictionary without mannerly cocking her head and cutesying it up. It’s a distraction, but then, what isn’t in this directionless picture? Writer/director Camp (of the drip-dry Kevin Costner drama Dragonfly – similarly dead-wife-obsessed) and his co-writer Mike Thompson clumsily introduce ideas then drop them entirely, devoting the first 10 minutes to establishing Burke as more or less a functioning alcoholic, then never mentioning it again. (There’s also a subplot about the commercialization of Burke’s grief via the likes of a weight-loss powder drink that is never resolved.) The soundtrack music weirdly jars, with years-old selections from the Eels, Badly Drawn Boy, the Postal Service, and Explosions in the Sky. The band Rogue Wave – not exactly a household name – bizarrely cameos, to the supposed delight of these fortysomething singletons who have never once mentioned music, let alone an obsession with Oakland indie rockers who haven’t put out an album in two years. I suppose these are just niggling asides, but when put all together, the minor irritants become major, indicative of an overall amateurishness. The crowning incompetence? The film’s climactic “twist” (way, way telegraphed) hangs on the presumption that in our highly digitized times, no savvy reporter or fan has ever bothered to do a cursory background check on Burke, a nationally prominent motivational speaker. Please. Google happens, people – and a lot more often than love does, that’s for sure.

READ MORE
More Jennifer Aniston Films
Cake
In a rare dramatic role, Jennifer Aniston plays a woman grappling with chronic pain, painkiller addiction, and personal tragedy.

William Goss, Jan. 23, 2015

Horrible Bosses 2
Common work-related frustrations erupt into a fitfully funny wish-fulfillment comedy.

William Goss, Nov. 28, 2014

More by Kimberley Jones
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
The mash-up title just about says it all

Feb. 5, 2016

45 Years
A long-married couple begins to question their union

Jan. 29, 2016

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Love Happens, Brandon Camp, Jennifer Aniston, Aaron Eckhart, Dan Fogler, Martin Sheen, John Carroll Lynch, Judy Greer, Frances Conroy

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
This content has not been formatted for this window size.
Please increase the size of your browser window, or revisit this page on a mobile device.
NEWSLETTERS
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, SXSW Daily Edition

Our latest from SXSW 2016, delivered March 11-20

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways