Jennifer Aniston and Aaron Eckhart work well together in Love Happens. Elosie (Jennifer Aniston) unintentionally prods Burke, a top-selling self-help motivational author and speaker, to face his demons. I can't help but think of Helpful Hints from Heloise, (the 1960s syndicated column aimed at helping housewives get the most out of modernity), because from the time Eloise bumps into Burke, she's giving him helpful hints about living. An early hint, and a line that helps set up the films thematic interests is: "Why wouldn't you just say so?"
The script for Love Happens harkens back to the Fred Astaire Ginger Rogers scenarios where she meets him under adverse circumstances (for example, he tears her skirt; he unintentionally steals her quarter...well, really, his quarter; he tap dances ceiling plaster down upon her head...you get it) and then falls under the spell of his magic and ultimately falls in love. In Astaire Rogers films, the magic of love is singing and dancing. In Love Happens, the magic comes through words that dance creatively, instead of feet that dance creatively.
The writing for Love Happens is witty and well structured, making the story a good one, a clever one and an entertaining one—and sure, maybe we know the end at the very beginning, especially since the trailers show us everything (elsewhere, I've dubbed these kinds of trailers spoiler trailers)—but the journey to the ending is a pleasant one, an amusing one and a meaningful one.
Burke is the wordy wit of the duo in Love Happens. He delivers some really amusing lines. Ironically, the lines aren't strokes of genius. They are often things that we ourselves have said, but they work and are funny because they are like life—our lives—and Eckhart carries them off as though they really are original and have never been heard before. Examples are that the cardboard promotional cut-out of himself is "really good in the carpool lane;" while trying to win a second chance, Burke says he's dashing and debonair "and what ever other d-word there is that would really impress you." We've all heard the carpool lane line and the missing word in the alliteration line for years (heard or said...). But the lines are still funny due to Eckhart's excellent delivery and Aniston's spot-on reactions. Additionally, Martin Sheen is a treat as Burke’s father-in-law.
Eloise is the analytical, wise one—although not so wise in her personal life. However, from early-on, we do know from the fact that she recently made a sound and beneficial business decision that her lack of personal wisdom can be, and indeed will be, remedied by some new and very wise decisions—after she continues in her old calamitous course for awhile. Here enters the "best friend," Judy Geer (Elizabethtown, 2005) as Marty, who clearly sketches Eloise's mistakes for her.
Do see this. It is family-friendly. It is also PG-13 rated, which means that there may be instances where moms and dads (or grandmas or grandpas or Aunt Marthas--if I missed you, please include yourself) might choose to cover young ears or eyes.
Brandon Camp, Director
Aaron Eckhart, Burke
Jennifer Aniston, Eloise
Martin Sheen, Burke's Father-in-law
Dan Fogler, Lane
John Carroll Lynch, Walter
Judy Greer, Marty