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Karla Souza’s charm gives ‘Everybody Loves Somebody’ some spark

Movie trailer: 'Everybody Loves Somebody'

"Everybody Loves Somebody" stars Karla Souza, Jose Maria Yazpik, Tiare Scanda and Ben O’Toole. It opens in theaters Friday, Feb. 17.
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"Everybody Loves Somebody" stars Karla Souza, Jose Maria Yazpik, Tiare Scanda and Ben O’Toole. It opens in theaters Friday, Feb. 17.

‘Everybody Loves Somebody” falls somewhere between a Hallmark Channel Valentine’s Day movie and a very good episode of “Jane the Virgin.” It’s a blend of grand questions about love played out against the kind of family that competes to see how far across the floor they can slide wearing socks.

The script by director/writer Catalina Aguilar Mastretta occasionally loses its way in the evaluation of love. It also sets up the worst romantic “which guy will she choose” situation since “Sweet Home Alabama.”

But, what keeps it from sliding into the stifling sentimentality that has become a hallmark of Hallmark and the offbeat nuttiness of “Jane” is Karla Souza. She manages to take a standard love story and elevate it with the same kind of charm and spunk that made Julie Roberts America’s film sweetheart for so many years.

Souza plays Clara, an OB-GYN who spends her days watching couples deal with the realities of childbirth and pondering her own relationship void.

Then she meets Asher (Ben O’Toole), an Aussie who works in the pediatrics department. He’s a sweet, kind and safe person whose biggest flaw is wearing Crocs. Asher seems to be the answer to her loneliness, but that changes when Clara’s former lover Daniel (Jose Maria Yazpik) walks back into her life. He’s anything but safe; he carries the baggage of dumping Clara a decade ago.

The majority of the film is Clara bouncing from bedpost to bedpost as she tries to sort out her feelings. Along the way she manages to alienate a good patient, her sister and Asher. This is the point where “Everybody Loves Somebody” could have become “Everybody Hates Clara.”

The way she treats both men is unfair and could have made her the villain of the story. But Souza has a natural charm. She brings her own level of sweetness to the character that makes it difficult to dislike her. As long as the audience doesn’t give up on Clara, the final outcome will work.

Mastretta’s writing and direction show little flair or imagination. The film starts with a standard love triangle and never moves beyond that design. It makes for a film that doesn’t take chances, but at least Mastretta knows how to pick a likable cast. That’s particularly true with Souza, who should be cast in more romances.

“Everybody Loves Somebody” is in both English and Spanish (with English subtitles).

Rick Bentley: 559-441-6355, @RickBentley1

Everybody Loves Somebody

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Movie review

Cast: Karla Souza, Jose Maria Yazpik, Tiare Scanda, Ben O’Toole

Director: Catalina Aguilar Mastretta

96 minutes

Rated PG-13 (sexual content, language)

Opens: Friday, Feb. 17

Check movie times at calendar.fresnobee.com/movies.aspx

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