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Starring: Rebel Wilson, Liam Hemsworth, Adam Devine
Director: Todd Strauss-Schulson
Screenplay: Erin Cardillo, Dana Fox
Comedy/Fantasy/Romance, Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 89 minutes
Release Date: February 13, 2019
Isn’t it time to review Rebel Wilson’s latest anti-rom-com?
Maybe they should have named this movie Isn’t it Anti-Romantic. Let’s recap.
We’re introduced to a young architect Natalie (Rebel Wilson) who doesn’t see herself as worthy of a man. She’s jaded on relationships because as a child her mother taught her that romantic comedies are jokes and true love can’t be had (reminiscent of the premise of Trainwreck). She’s friends with co-worker Whitney (Betty Gilpin) who is a hopeless romantic and watches romantic comedies all day. Her other co-worker Josh (Adam Devine) keeps asking her to karaoke and happy hour but consistently demurs – not seeing Josh’s overtures as romantic.
When Natalie is not taken seriously by very hot client Blake (Liam Hemsworth), she runs home. On the subway she is mugged and bumps into a girder, knocking her out. She wakes up in a hospital and realizes that everyone thinks she is beautiful and everything is coming up roses. Exiting the hospital, she runs into Blake – only now he finds her irresistible.
Natalie begins observing other major changes to this new universe. Her apartment and dog are all perfect, she has a stereotypically gay neighbor Donny (Brandon Scott Jones), and her friend at work Whitney is now an evil rival. While she and Josh are walking in the park, Josh saves the life of a beautiful supermodel Isabella (Priyanka Chopra) and the two begin a relationship. At work, Natalie is charged with designing the parking deck of a lavish building for Blake while now being on the receiving end of his advances.
Scott, I’ve been waiting patiently for a Rebel Wilson movie – one where Wilson is the star. And as a first outing, I’m pretty happy with this one. Wilson typically plays the “fat, sassy, best friend” in her other films. As such she’s been terribly typecast. Now she has a chance to sing a different song (Pitch Perfect pun intended). While this is a very superficial take-down of the rom-com format, Wilson carries the film well and delivers a performance that I hope will take her in a new direction as a leading lady.
The film is a very funny send-up of the romantic comedy genre. There are scenes where Natalie is about to have sex with super sexy Blake, but somehow the camera cuts to curtains blowing in the wind and she wakes up alone the next day (ala Groundhog Day). She becomes increasingly frustrated as she realizes that you never see the sex in rom-coms and she will not get the hot guy.
As all the rom-com tropes are played out, we come to the climax where Natalie rushes into the wedding to claim her real love – Josh (ala The Graduate) – only to realize that she doesn’t need a man. That in order to find true love, she must first love herself. And at that moment she awakes from the fantasy and delivers her architectural proposal with gusto, takes control of her underlings, and enters into a relationship with Josh. As the ending to an anti-rom-com, I found this most satisfying as it delivers the message that self-acceptance is the first step to finding true love.
Greg, Isn’t it Romantic is a mildly entertaining film that does a nice job of mocking the romantic comedy genre in a good-natured way. In a nod to a timeless TV and film trope, our hero Natalie bumps her head which propels her into the magical fantasy world of PG-13 rom-coms. As you point out, Greg, Natalie knows all the archetypal characters and situations by heart, and she comes to learn that she cannot escape them. So she endures the set-up of having a stereotypically gay friend, an evil rival at work, and both her and Josh finding seemingly perfect partners who turn out to be bad for them. There are some good comedic moments here involving Natalie and the “perfect” Liam Hemsworth character, and we leave the theater smiling but also realizing there are better comedies we’ve seen than this one.
This year, Greg, we’re rating the message of the 2019 films we’re reviewing. In Isn’t it Romantic, there are at least three messages. One message is one that you point out, Greg, which is that you have to love yourself before you can love another person. This isn’t a bad message but it seems to me that self-respect is more important than self-love (which can be narcissistic). The second message is that your romantic love interest should also be your best friend. This is also a good take-home message that’s hard to quibble with. A third message is that to transform your life, there is no escaping the hero’s journey no matter how scripted you think it is. This movie gets a lot of comedic mileage out of this life-lesson, if you can call it that.
Isn’t it Romantic is a pleasant film with a nice message for the #MeToo generation. It is in no way earth-shattering, but a good vehicle for one of my favorite actors Rebel Wilson. I am confused by the title – as I think the distribution company was – because the poster has “Don’t Call Me” at the top in huge letters. That might have been a better title. I had a good time in this film and look forward to seeing more of Rebel Wilson. I give Isn’t it Romantic 3 out of 5 Reels.
As a hero, Natalie has a very comfortable hero’s journey as she starts out jaded and avoiding both love and responsibility. Her fantasy experience teaches her that to be her best self, and to find the love she truly deserves, she has to first love herself. So, I give Natalie 3 Heroes out of 5, and 3 Message points out of 5.
Isn’t it Rom-Comic is a mildly amusing rom-com that derives its appeal from its ability to mock its own genre of film. Greg, I agree that Rebel Wilson is a true talent and makes the most of her role here. She’s worth the price of admission by herself. As for the movie, it’s fairly lightweight yet managed to hold my attention and made me smile several times. Overall, I give Isn’t it Rom-Comantic a rating of 3 Reels out of 5.
Our hero Natalie is a very worthy hero, especially given that rom-coms are not exactly fertile soil from which great heroes spring. Natalie’s weird and deficient upbringing gave her a warped view of life, love, and the world, and it is this warped view that is transformed by the story here. She deserves 3 Hero points out of 5, and those lovely messages about self-acceptance being the prerequisite for romance are worthy enough to merit a 3 out of 5 Message score, too.