To Rome With Love

Directed By: Woody Allen

Starring: Woody Allen, Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni, Penélope Cruz, Judy Davis, Jesse Eisenberg, Greta Gerwig, and Ellen Page

I need to get on Woody Allen's travel tip.  This man is getting everywhere.  I am so jealous.  I look at his "work" locations and feel like a bum.  I need to step my travel game up a few notches.  This guy has taken us to the count city in Vicky Cristina Barcelona.  He's taken us to the city of light in Midnight in Paris.  Now, the esteemed auteur takes us to the eternal city in To Rome With Love.  Like always, he gives us a vacation we never want to end.  There's plenty of love, laughter, and wisdom along the way.

Roma is a city full of life and full of love.  A traffic cop (Pierluigi Marchionne) wants to tell us some of the stories he witnesses on an everyday basis.  American girl Hayley (Alison Pill) is engaged to marry her Italian boyfriend Michelangelo (Flavio Perenti).  While in Rome, Hayley takes the opportunity to meet Michelangelo's parents.  Meanwhile, her own parents Jerry (Allen) and Phyllis (Judy Davis) are flying to the eternal city to meet Hayley's future in-laws.  When they arrive, Phyllis instantly falls in love with the beauty of Rome and is respectful of Michelangelo and his family.  Jerry is not too enamored with the fact that his daughter's future father-in-law Giancarlo (Fabio Armiliato) is a mortician, but he warms up to things when he hears what that man can do while singing in the shower.

Milly (Alessandra Mastronardi) and Antonio (Alessandro Tiberi) are a young married couple from the small town of Pordenone.  They've come to Rome so that Antonio can start a new job working for his uncles and aunts.  With this in mind, they're meeting his uncles and aunts today for lunch.  While at the hotel, Milly decides to go to get her hair done beforehand.  With the nearby salon being fully booked, Milly gets lost looking for another.  She ends up sitting at the fountain in Piazza Barberini.  Somehow, she meets Italian actress Pia Fusari (Ornella Muti) and her famous co-star Luca Salta (Antonio Albanese).  When Luca invites her out for lunch, she forgets all about her plans with Antonio and sees opportunity knocking with a star.  Meanwhile, a prostitute named Anna (Penélope Cruz) arrives at Milly's hotel room and mistakes Antonio for some other guy, a new client she has been paid to surprise.  Unfortunately, Antonio's uncles and aunts arrive shortly thereafter, and discover Anna and Antonio in bed.  Now, Anna must pretend to be Milly and go to lunch with Antonio's family.

Jack (Jesse Eisenberg) is an aspiring architect living in Rome with his girlfriend Sally (Greta Gerwig).  While walking the streets he meets a successful architect named John (Alec Baldwin).  Jack invites John back to his home to have coffee with him and Sally.  While there, Sally informs them that her newly single best friend Monica (Ellen Page) is coming to Rome to stay with them.  A free spirit who has a talent for stealing the men in Sally's life, Monica quickly enamors Jack upon her arrival.  A bit more experienced in the ways of love, John starts dishing out advice to Jack and helps him navigate his stable relationship with Sally and his newfound attraction to Monica, mostly by telling him to avoid Monica.

Leopoldo (Roberto Benigni) is your ordinary schmuck.  He works as a clerk and has no real social status.  When he goes to a restaurant or to a movie premiere, he has to wait in line like everyone else.  He's a nobody.  Having already had a lesson in poverty and the rougher side of life, Leopoldo now learns how unfair and cruel fame can be.  On his way to work one day, he's inundated with reporters who inform him of his newfound celebrity.  Leopoldo has no clue why, but he's become famous for, well, being famous.  With his new celebrity, he enjoys life with a dedicated chauffeur, a grand new office, and countless sexy women looking to bed him.

Having just vacationed in the eternal city this past summer, I had a rather personal connection to To Rome With Love.  As Woody Allen takes us through some of the most beautiful sights in Rome, I can't help but feel like I'm on vacation again. He starts at the Monument to Victor Emanuel, II and closes at the Spanish Steps.  Along the way, he takes us to the Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and Villa Borghese.  With gorgeous cinematography and incredible breathtaking shots of Rome, Allen truly captures the beauty of the eternal city.  That alone is worth the price of admission.

From the moment To Rome With Love begins, you know you're in for something special.  A master is at work here.  Once again, Woody Allen takes us to a world full of delightful characters in silly, outrageous situations.  He gives us a film full of wit and heart.  He gives us something with his own lighthearted take on love.  Allen even has time for a little social commentary on the decadence of pop culture.  Roberto Benigni's Leopoldo isn't famous for being a nobody.  He's famous to show us what's wrong with the world today.

As always, the music in To Rome With Love is spot on.  Allen opens and closes with Domenico Modugno's "Nel blu dipinto di blu (Volare)".  Allen has a love for older music, and it's never been more apparent than now.  He breaks out a lot of classic Italian music as well as some old school jazz.  Whether you're an old soul or you prefer the crap they call music today, you'll find yourself tapping your feet to a tune or two throughout the film.  I truly appreciate a film like this that exposes us to some real culture.  This is the sort of stuff that sets Woody Allen apart from the rest of the pack.

The acting in To Rome With Love is second to none.  The actors truly bring these colorful characters to life.  Whether Roberto Benigni's Leopoldo is pleasantly surprised by the lifestyle of the rich and famous or Fabio Armiliato's Giancarlo is belting out a magnificent tune in the shower, these actors give us their best.  With such a large cast in this ensemble romantic comedy, I can't talk about everybody.   I can tell you that there are a few standouts however.  On the comedic front, Woody Allen, Alec Baldwin, and Penélope Cruz deliver the goods.  On the romantic front, Alessandra Mastronardi and Ellen Page give us starkly different but equally alluring characters.  They both give us passionate creatures that draw us into their storylines.

In To Rome With Love, Woody Allen closes his travel series with a bang.  Admittedly, there are a few plot holes in the movie, but they're entirely forgivable.  John may be a strange, creepy presence at times just strolling around with Jack and Monica.  We may never know why Leopoldo is famous.  Nonetheless, To Rome With Love is a thoroughly enjoyable film.  If you're not laughing, you'll be marveling at the beauty of the eternal city.  Grab a few wine coolers with this one.  To Rome With Love gets a 0.03% rating.

Sadly, Allen's coming back to the states for his next film.  There are plenty of other European cities I would love to see him cover.