Plot summary (with possible spoilers): Burke Ryan (played by Aaron Eckhart) is a popular grief expert/self-help guru whose books and seminars help people come to terms with the loss of a loved one. Others are attracted by his down-to-earth approach and by the fact that he has personally experienced loss himself. His wife died in a car accident, and images from that night still haunt Burke.
While giving a seminar in Seattle, Burke meets Eloise (Jennifer Aniston), a florist who handles all the flower arrangements at the hotel. He notices that she has a penchant for writing unusual words (like “quidnunc” and “poppysmic”) behind the generic paintings throughout the hotel. Burke looks up the words, smiles, and decides to approach Eloise. She shoots him down the first time, but they keep meeting, and she finally says yes.
They embark on a tentative relationship, as it’s clear to Eloise that Burke still has some issues of his own to work out. Specifically, Burke actually blames himself for his wife’s death, and hasn’t come to terms yet with what happened that night. Until he does, he and Eloise don’t really stand a chance.
The rest of the film then follows the standard formula of having the main couple break up, work things out on their own, and then reunite when everything is better. Sure, the details have changed in this film, but you still get the feeling that you’ve seen it all before.
My Reaction: I like Jennifer Aniston, but think her choice in scripts is pretty bad. It feels as though she plays the same character and goes through all the same situations over and over again. Who knows, maybe it isn’t just the scripts she’s getting. Maybe she simply doesn’t have the acting chops to take on significantly different roles. Whatever the reason, she’s quickly losing credibility as a box office draw. Her last real hit was He’s Just Not Into You, which featured an ensemble cast of big names. Before that, Marley & Me was successful, but I think that was due more to a combination of Owen Wilson, the dog, and having a built-in audience from the original book than from her presence. Any other actress could have played the role and the film still would have made $100 million.
Back to Love Happens. As I said in the final paragraph of the plot summary, the whole love story feels completely familiar and rehashed. Some of the grief counseling subplots were decent, especially the one where Burke seemed genuinely interested in helping the contractor get over the death of his son and get his life back on track. But the scenes with Burke and Eloise were brutal — especially because Eckhart and Aniston had absolutely zero on-screen chemistry. The casting was off in this one.
I think I might give up watching these Aniston films until she comes back with a bona fide hit. Between Love Happens and Management, I’ve had just about enough of these crappy movies. I give Love Happens 2 stars out of 5.