Isn't It Romantic (2019)
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The story begins with a young girl mesmerized while watching Julia Roberts in PRETTY WOMAN. A minute later, the girl's fantasy is shattered when her mother (Jennifer Saunders) explains 'there are no happy endings for girls like us.' We then flash forward 25 years to find that little girl has grown up to become Natalie (Rebel Wilson, PITCH PERFECT), an architect whose lack of confidence and self-esteem has caused her career to stall and her daily life to be a grind (even her dog ghosts her). Additionally, Natalie is a skeptic when it comes to love, and offers up a brilliant rant on the misgivings and pain caused by Romantic Comedies. The rant is directed towards her loyal assistant Whitney (Betty Gilpin, "GLOW"), who spends a significant portion of each workday streaming rom-coms at her desk.
Of course, Natalie's rant foreshadows everything we are about to see, and it all occurs after a freak subway accident leaves her concussed. It's at this point where Natalie finds herself trapped within her own Romantic Comedy ... the kind of world she so disdains. All of the familiar rom-com tropes and clichés are mixed in, and Natalie is kind enough to literally point out most of them. The obvious comparison here is to Amy Schumer's I FEEL PRETTY, but this film benefits not just from the very talented Ms. Wilson (a master of dry snark), but also a cast that is fully on board.
Liam Hemsworth (aka Mr. Miley Cyrus) appears as Blake, the picturesque, charming and of course, very rich romantic lead. Priyanka Chopra (BAYWATCH) stars as the stunning competition-in-love for Natalie, and Adam Devine (PITCH PERFECT) is Josh, Natalie's nice guy co-worker and not-so-secret admirer who can't seem to escape the friend zone. Given the times, it is a bit surprising to see Brandon Scott Jones take his stereotypical gay friend Donny so over the top. The love quadrangle plays out as expected, yet thanks to the site gags and Rebel's zingers, it's quite entertaining.
Director Todd Strauss-Schulson and writers Erin Cardillo, Dana Fox, and Katie Silberman clearly have a solid grasp on the repeatable offenses that occur during most romantic comedies, and I would have preferred they cut a bit deeper in their commentary, but understand the decision not to. They offer us a rare Prozac joke, the new phrase "extra invisible", and the best use in years of Percy Faith's "Theme from A Summer Place". Toying with the PG-13 rating is also part of the gag, and the musical interludes are funny enough, especially the finale presented in Bollywood style. Expect this one to be a favorite on ladies night out, and don't be shocked if some men on dates catch themselves laughing a few times.
Rebel Wilson can carry a film, which is nice to see. Betty Gilpin of GLOW is great as her transformed work bff and Liam Helmsworth, much like Chris Pines, does well cutting his comedic chops mocking the hunky leading man. But it's Brandon Scott Jones who's the scene-stealer as the side-kick bff who apparently has no job or life, allowing him to magically appear to lend advice or serve as silly montage material. I recommend this film to anyone who likes, but also likes to laugh at, the silliness of the hollywood ending.
Such a fun movie to watch. My husband was kicking and screaming the whole way there because he was not intrested at all. Well, he ended up loving it when he found out it wasn't technically a romantic comedy. More like anti-romantic comedy. The references to the 100 other romantic films was a clever touch to the movie. You will laugh, and you will enjoy this..unless you don't get humor or have the personality of a nat
I don't recommend paying the cost of a theater ticket for this movie. Wait for it to come to whatever service you already pay for, cable, satellite, Netflix, etc., and judge for yourself.
The film does have it's funny, including some good-natured jabs at the romantic comedy genre, or heartfelt parts. The director and others were definitely trying. However, as a whole the thing doesn't come quite together. It feels like the script could have gone through another revision. The jokes and story just feel a little low-energy. This is one of those movies where it's especially sad because it feels like it comes close to a truly good film, but just misses the mark.
Pacing is a concern. The setup goes on too long, Rebel's character trying to wrap her head around the world takes too long, and guess how short or long the ending was?
Rebel's Wilson's performance is lacking. She excels at outrageous/outgoing comedy. However, here she plays more of a straight lead. It's the same issue I think she had with her short-lived television show, she doesn't quite know how to play it straight and is a little wooden. In fairness, direction may have had a hand in this. Adam Devine and Liam Hemsworth are the romantic interests, and though usually fun guys, they aren't quite as entertaining as usual.
On the other hand, Brandon Scott James does a great job as the movie world's dated stereotypical gay best friend. Glow's Betty Gilpin isn't in this much but she does pretty good double duty as Rebel's best friend in the real world and a completely different character in the movie world that I won't spoil. Her change in performance and appearance is so strong that it took me a minute to recognize her.
Like I said, the director was trying and it definitely shows in the appearance of this film. This is is a romanticized borderline perfect world and it shows. Super colorful; the lighting kind of look like it belongs to 80's on-location TV shows. A lot of detail; extras are constantly seeing doing little things in the background. There are a couple of decent musical numbers, too.
Now when I said this didn't work for me, I admit I may be biased. I'm not a big romantic comedy person. I think that Love Actually is one of the best romantic comedies because of the coldly rational reason that the shorter divided story-lines deletes the risk of drawing things out and boredom. Still, I do think there are much better romantic comedies than this.