To Rome With Love isn't a great movie. Woody Allen's latest flick meanders aimlessly between fantasy and reality -- and not in the charming, well-executed manner that worked so well in his whimsical Midnight in Paris.
However, To Rome With Love does do a great job of making you want to go to Rome. If the far-fetched plot loses you in the theatre, you could easily spend the duration of the flick daydreaming about your own trip to Rome.
You could imagine yourself falling in love in front of the Trevi Fountain, where Alison Pill and Flavio Parenti have their meet-cute, or waltzing down the charming little side street where Jesse Eisenberg stumbles upon a brooding Alec Baldwin. You may even mentally map out your own little excursion to the ruins of Ostia Antica, where Ellen Page's horribly miscast sexpot seduces Eisenberg.
Allen, of course, is a master of maximizing the fabulous locations he shoots in. For years, he made audiences wish they too lived in New York with classic flicks like Annie Hall and Manhattan. Wouldn't it be great to have your obsessively neurotic conversations with friends at cute little Manhattan cafes?
In more recent years, his movies like Match Point, Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Midnight in Paris have incited desires to venture over to London, Barcelona and Paris, respectively. Who wouldn't want to stumble across a hunky Spanish artist to traipse across Barcelona with?
Daydreaming through To Rome With Love got me thinking about these five other not-so-great flicks that I could watch over and over thanks to the amazing locations they were shot in.
1. Couple's Retreat/Bora Bora. I originally went to see this because I love Jason Bateman, Vince Vaughn, Malin Akerman and Ken Jeong. While it certainly wasn't the laugh-out-loud comedy I was expecting, I must admit to watching this sub-par flick at least five times while daydreaming about having my own luxurious hut perched on the glistening turquoise Bora Bora waters. Couple's Retreat not only put Bora Bora on my radar as a travel destination, it made me want to go there post-haste. (Well, as post-haste as such an expensive locale allows.)
2. 21/Las Vegas. Again, not a great movie, but I've seen it at least seven times, mostly while getting psyched up for my own trips to Vegas. The filmmakers do a great job of contrasting the movie's two locations -- academic Boston and glittering Las Vegas. The sweeping shots of the sparkling Vegas strip, flashy casino floors and spectacular penthouse suites send me straight to Expedia every time.
3. Before Sunset/Paris. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Feelings. We get it, you guys are sensitive. This sequel to the amazing 1995 Before Sunrise may be a little heavy on the brooding dialogue, but the stunning scenes of Paris more than make up for it. Boat ride on the Seine? Don't mind if I do! (And yes, I realize that classifying this one as 'not-so-great' may be a controversial move, particularly since it earned an Oscar nod for best adapted screenplay. But what can I say? I found it boring. Zzzzz.)
4. A Perfect Getaway/Hawaii. Psycho killers on the loose or not, Hawaii's Kalalau Trail along the Napali Coast in Kauai looks magnificent! I might tough out a murder spree if it meant spending more time in this lush tropical paradise. Besides, Timothy Olyphant seems trustworthy enough. Or does he?
5. New York I Love You/New York. Some of the vignettes are better than others, but the overall effect of this collection of city tales is 'get me to New York -- pronto!' I want to ride the subway like Drea De Matteo, sit in a DUMBO park basking in the Manhattan skyline like Natalie Portman and avoid my work by strolling the city streets like Orlando Bloom.