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Written by San Fernando Valley Sun   
Thursday, 28 June 2012 02:31

"To Rome With Love" – Woody Allen had better working titles for this one, first, "Bop Decameron," then, "Nero Fiddled." Despite the exquisite locations of the filmmaker's first story of love, Italian style, this bland ensemble romance lives up _ or rather, lives down _ to the generic postcard sentiment of its final title. Weaving four stories of Italians and American visitors, the writerdirector creates a lot of clever moments with his ensemble comedy that features Allen's first on-screen appearance since 2006's "Scoop." In between the good times, the story and characters just drift about awkwardly, stuck on a walking tour of Rome that continually bumps up against dead ends, or worse, circles back so we wind up seeing the same things a few times too many. Allen's co-stars include past collaborators Penelope Cruz, Judy Davis and Alison Pill, plus Alec Baldwin, Ellen Page, Roberto Benigni, Jesse Eisenberg and Greta Gerwig. Most of the performances are tentative and jittery, and the four scenarios are generally uninvolving. Throughout the film, it's not Nero who's fiddling, but Allen, bopping and dithering around Rome like a tourist so desperate to cram in all the sights that he comes away only with a few crisp highlights and a lot of out-offocus snapshots. R for some sexual references. 112 minutes. Two stars out of four.

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Last Updated on Thursday, 28 June 2012 02:33