Love Happens (2009) - Review

by - March 15, 2019

Synopsis: A widower whose book about coping with loss turns him into a best-selling self-help guru, falls for the hotel florist where his seminar is given, only to learn that he hasn't yet truly confronted his wife's passing.

Sometimes When You Least Expect It...

After losing his wife in a car accident, therapist Burke Ryan (Aaron Eckhart) writes a best selling self-help book on how to overcome grief and ends up on the tour circuit. Reluctantly he agrees to host a grief seminar in Seattle where his wife was from, and where his estranged in-laws still live, and while he's there, he meets Eloise (Jennifer Aniston), a florist who has recently broken up with her cheating boyfriend. They have a rather bland meet cute in the hotel where Burke is hosting his seminar, literally bumping into one another, where Eloise initially pretends to be deaf to deter any potential of Burke hitting on her (because he's in a hotel and she assumes he's married and wants a piece on the side, of course!). Eventually this awkward first meet is cleared up, followed by a rather painful first date, followed by a heartfelt confession from Burke that he hasn't been on a date in three years, followed by Eloise appreciating his honesty and taking him to her floral shop.

Now we already know Eloise is 'quirky' because she likes to write odd words that require a dictionary on the walls behind the paintings in the hotel, and she collects copies of the more unique messages her customers send with their flowers. Her mother is a big fan of Burke, wouldn't you know. She drives a blue Volkswagon van and is quite clearly there to help Burke open his heart up again and face the fact that he's never really come to terms with the loss of his wife. Eloise has no real arc of her own, no real story to tell. This movie is about Burke Ryan.

His time with Eloise is secondary to the time spent with the group from his seminar. They've all lost a loved one and have been finding it difficult to move beyond their grief. One man, in particular, is Walter (John Carroll Lynch). Walter lost everything in his life after the death of his young son, and he is seemingly the focal point of Burke. Because if Burke can help Walter get his life back on track, maybe the same is possible for himself.

Love Happens might have been marketed as a romantic comedy, but it's anything but. I enjoyed pieces of the movie, but it didn't feel very cohesive as a whole. Frankly, it's not terribly funny, despite the always welcome presence of rom-com sidekick extraordinaire, Judy Greer and lovable Dan Folger. The topic of grief is a heavy one and can obviously be handled with humor if you have the right script and the right director, but the comedy aspect of the film really fell flat. There are a few amusing moments (particularly between the parrot of Burke's dead wife and Martin Sheen), but I spent more time feeling choked up whenever Walter talked about his son and how he died. Walter's arc was more interesting than the rest of the movie put together if that tells you anything.

Jennifer Aniston and Aaron Eckhart are two attractive people, but I wasn't really feeling their relationship. There was very little chemistry there and their romance definitely took a backseat to Burke's grief and journey to accepting his wife's passing and his role in it. It was a bit more melodramatic for me, to be honest. During Burke's emotional breakdown on stage in front of a packed auditorium, there is a slow clap when he reconciles with his father-in-law, which felt oddly inappropriate, and I couldn't help but think Burke and his father-in-law could travel from city to city and put on the same show to make some extra money. Cynical of me, I know, but it felt very cheap. Burke somehow met a woman, fell in love and finally released three years of buried grief in less than four days. Incredible!

Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Jennifer Aniston, Dan Folger, Judy Greer, Martin Sheen
Directed by: Brandon Camp
Rated: PG-13
Watched: 03.09.2019
Fun Facts:
- Jennifer Aniston was never in Seattle during shooting of the film. They used a body double during the scenes depicting Seattle landmarks.
Notable Song: Have A Little Faith In Me by John Hiatt

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