Geek Review: Isn’t It Romantic

I’m not much of a fan of romantic comedies.  They tend to be sappy, predictable, and many of them aren’t even all that funny.

As it is, the new Rebel Wilson-led comedy Isn’t It Romantic seems to agree with me.  Did it turn out well?

Natalie (Wilson) is an architect in a crappy apartment in New York City.  She’s not very high on the metaphorical totem pole at her job, disrespected by most of her co-workers, and when she spots her assistant watching a romantic comedy, she goes off on how bad they are in great detail about how formulaic they are.  Then after a failed mugging, she hits her head and wakes up inside one.  Will she find love with hunky billionaire Blake (Liam Hemsworth) or with her longtime friend and co-worker Josh (Adam Devine)?  And will that let her go back to the real world?

The set-up here could be reminiscent of Amy Schumer’s so-so (at best) comedy from last year I Feel Pretty, but Isn’t It Romantic has a much more solid foundation for laughs and a better lead actor in Wilson.  That Wilson’s Natalie recognizes the very tropes of her setting helps, especially as the movie starts to move closer and closer to embracing those tropes as it goes along, helps quite a bit.  And there is a lot going on in every scene in the rom-com world.  Love is everywhere, people pairing off left and right, well-choreographed dances seem to just happen, and familiar pop song just play at random.  Everyone is well-dressed, and everyone seems to be unbelievably attractive.    And, I’ll give the movie some props for making some of those random background characters same sex couples.  There’s a lot going on in the background, and everyone involved tried to make this movie as much of a proto-rom-com as they could.

On the other hand, there was a part of me that felt the movie never quite completely committed to the concept of being a meta-commentary to the rom-com genre.  I’d say it went maybe 80% into it while using the remaining 20 to more or less use those tropes to tell the story the movie wants to tell.  That’s fine, and the gold standard for completely going meta on a genre is probably Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, and I felt that one went on a little too long, so maybe not going completely meta is a good thing.  As it is, I found Wilson charming and the movie overall fun, playing the concept maybe not as well as I could have hoped, but well enough.  8 out of 10 surprising karaoke performances.

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