Love does not happen in Love Happens. Instead, the slow clap happens. You know, where someone pours their heart out on a stage and onlookers exchange awkward glances before one of them is brave enough to start slowly slapping their hands together?
Oh, other things happen too. Aaron Eckhart turns a corner, and oops, wouldn’t you know it? He bumps right into Jennifer Aniston, playing her usual quirky self, and the stage is set for a romance that doesn’t seem like it will work. Surely the audience will be on edge to see if everything works out in the end, right?
Then again, maybe not. After utilizing countless romantic comedy clichés, including the casting of Jennifer Aniston, there is nowhere left for this sap-filled mess to go. Actually, take that back. A cameo by Matthew McConaughey minus one shirt would complete a full list of this genre’s modern contrivances.
Love Happens does try to pull at the heartstrings, delivering multiple dejected, depressing stories about lost loved ones as Eckhart, playing a self-help guru, assists them in working through their grief. However, this is all a manipulative cover, trying to shield the audience from the brainless assault of dull, unimaginative writing.
Eckhart has more chemistry in this movie with a beautiful white Cockatoo, owned by his deceased wife. Per her wishes, he promises to set it free, so he takes it to the middle of Seattle forest and does some admittedly cute dances with it before it flies away. Aniston asks, “Do you think that’s animal cruelty?”
Possibly, considering a bird known for thriving in the warm climates of Indonesia would surely love the cold, damp, freezing temperatures of Seattle, right? Right? [xrr rating=2/5 label=Movie]
Universal’s AVC encode for Love Happens undoubtedly makes watching this rather awful film a little easier. Despite being set in Seattle, there is a sense of warmth to the visual style at work, with slightly orange but still natural flesh tones. Colors are truly beautiful, bright and vivid with intense saturation.
The visuals astound right out of the gate, with the opening concerning a close-up of lemons being cut. Stunning yellows, flawless levels of exquisite detail, and simply spectacular depth dominate. When the camera moves out to first introduce the city, a reference quality shot occurs (2:25 in), with razor sharp lines even into the gray skyline. Compression from this VC-1 effort is never an issue.
Facial close-ups, of which this film has many, remain firmly delineated. Some of the darker scenes, including one inside a hookah bar, drop in terms of their depth and texture. These are few, as this generally bright, perky film contains heavy lights to focus on the brilliance of the environments, or the immense detail, like textures on suits.
Other highlights include Eckhart setting the bird free, the slight mist on the ground causing no noticeable problems for the encode. Rocks and pebbles on the side of a stream are rendered flawlessly. One of the final shots, a close-up on some concrete, likewise delivers the same staggering level of definition viewers have come to expect from this effort. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Video]
Despite being a dialogue-based dramedy, there are a few standout moments for this DTS-HD effort. A scene where Eckhart takes his help group into the city features some wonderful ambiance, slightly elevated for purposes of the story. Cars, jackhammers, and passer-by chatter are wonderfully immersive.
The hookah bar is lively with general ambiance, and a few thunderstorms excel likewise. A few flashbacks deliver a strong, aggressive low-end as a car slams into a pole. A brief concert is certainly forceful, with a smooth bass line, and the cheering crowd in the surrounds. The light score delivers a general clarity, slightly bleeding into the surrounds. This is undoubtedly a small surprise. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Audio]
Extras include a commentary from writer/director Brandon Camp, co-writer/producer Mike Thompson, and executive producer Richard Solomon. Six deleted scenes run around two minutes each (on average), while some special effects progression shots are included in the silent feature Giving Romance a New Look. BD-Live access is typical Universal. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Extras]