Dan's Review: "Isn't It Romantic?" Skewers "Rom-Com" Clichés
Feb 12, 2019 18h08
By Dan Metcalf
Rebel Wilson and Adam Devine in Isn't It Romantic - © 2019 Warner Bros.
Isn’t It Romantic? (Warner Bros.)
Rated PG-13 for language, some sexual material, and a brief drug reference.
Starring Rebel Wilson, Liam Hemsworth, Adam DeVine, Priyanka Chopra, Betty Gilpin, Brandon Scott Jones, Tom Ellis, Jennifer Saunders.
Written by Erin Cardillo, Dana Fox, and Katie Silberman.
Directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson.
I used to like romantic comedies, or “rom-coms,” as they have been named. Then, it seemed they all morphed into the same film, with paint-by-the-numbers scenarios, outcomes, and humor (or lack thereof). The basic premise of a) keeping two incredibly cute/beautiful people apart for 80 of a 90-minute movie b) bringing them together against all odds in a madcap finish, with c) zany sidekicks in tow – has become so methodic you can accurately predict every scene several minutes before it’s shown. Isn’t It Romantic? a new film starring Rebel Wilson tries very hard to attack and expose the rom-com tropes.
Wilson stars as Natalie, a c-level architect who designs parking garages in New York City (because truly authentic love stories only happen in NYC?). As a child, Nat loved romantic comedies, only to discover that real life is much less ideal. After hitting her head during a mugging attempt in the subway, Nat awakens to an alternate universe based on the norms of rom-coms, where the streets of NYC don’t smell like sewage and are lined with flowers. The rom-com world is preeminently PG-13, and every attempt to utter the F-bomb is squelched by coincidental noisemakers, like beeping trucks, alarm clocks, and other spurious clatter. Instead of being a frumpy, invisible cubicle dweller, Nat turns heads of all males she comes in contact with, including one her architectural clients, Blake (Liam Hemsworth), who immediately falls for her charm and beauty. Nat’s other relationships are altered as well. Her hermit-like neighbor Donny (Brandon Scott) is now her “gay best pal” (one of the more common rom-com clichés), her sweet assistant Whitney (Betty Gilpin) is now her nasty office rival, while her best guy friend Josh (Adam Devine), who has a crush on her in the real world remains her pal until he charms the beautiful, voluptuous “Yoga ambassador” Isabella (Priyanka Chopra), setting up the obstacle between the couple that “should be” together. The formula proceeds as you’d expect, with one twist that alters Nat’s fate and sends her back to the real world.
Isn’t It Romantic? is mostly successful in showcasing and dispelling all the rom-com clichés. Some of the gags work, with plenty of laughs at the expense of several rom-com tropes, including the cutaway before a couple engages in any actual sex act, the “gay best friend” who doesn’t seem to have a job, the dance scenes where perfect strangers follow the same choreography in perfect sync, and the main character’s office space that resembles a theme park for millennials.
Behind all the rom-com spoofs is Wilson, whose beauty and charm shine through all the zaniness while promoting a simple truth of finding happiness within and among true friends, rather than a romantic ideal. The film also successfully avoids any fat jokes, which is remarkable for a movie featuring a plus-sized actress.
Isn’t It Romantic? has the luxury being able to make fun of the rom-com while BEING a rom-com. Some of the liberties taken at the expense of the worn-out genre go too far, or in some cases, not far enough, but Isn’t It Romantic? may be the perfect remedy for those who are looking for a fresh take on romance.
Isn't It Romantic Trailer