You know, I was in love once. Didn't work out. Something about how I wasn't being "Will Smith" enough... whatever.
Isn’t It A Rom-Com
I think by now we all know the basic formula of romantic comedies. The typical narrative has a boy and a girl encounter each other in a meet-cute, they share unrealistic and wacky shenanigans together that are beyond schmaltzy, they start to fall head over heels for one another, there’s a misunderstanding of some sort that always leads to the third act breakup only for them to run into each other’s arms ten minutes later. Or it’s the narrative formula where our lead is blind to what was right in front of them all along and the love of their life was actually the quirky best friend that was with them every step of the way, but it may be too late for their chance at romance. Leading to the third act realization of the lead character and they have to race against time before their true love gets on a plane or married to the wrong person or goes to the bad sushi restaurant in town that always gives customers food poisoning. You all know the basic rom-com formula. Isn’t It Romantic plays off of a lot of those clichés that we all recognize at this point. I personally found the movie funny and even a little clever at times, nothing ground breaking by any means, but really all I could ask for from something like this is to be entertained and that’s exactly what I got out of it.
Natalie (Rebel Wilson) is a young woman working as an underappreciated architect in New York City. Natalie is under the notion that love and romantic comedies are nothing but one big lie in life. Then after getting into a strange accident, she finds herself waking up inside of an actual romantic comedy movie life. Everyone within her life has been replaced with stereotypes inside of a familiar rom-com; the super supportive gay best friend, the female mortal enemy at work that will stop at nothing to berate and undermine our heroine, the extremely good looking romantic interest that gives our lead the whimsical romance of a lifetime, the overly polished world that feels too clean to be reality, all the sporadic song and dance numbers one could ask for, it’s every generic rom-com ever made and Natalie has to find her way back to her own real world.
The Satire of Love
So as you can tell, this is a movie that is set out to satirize and call out the hundreds of romantic comedies for the clichés that they are known for today. In my opinion, Isn’t it Romantic does it well. No, I wouldn’t say that it is the most biting of satires I’ve ever seen, by no means is this the Paul Verhoeven movie of rom-coms. But it still has fun with the idea and it made me laugh quite a number of times. It pokes fun at the silly stereotypes that we’re familiar with, it puts a humorous spin on the wild antics of our heroes always considered to be cute qualities when really they’re downright breaking the law at times, it even has some pretty funny instances involving a world that is entirely under the PG-13 rating. At the end of the day, it made me laugh and that’s honestly the most important thing for a comedy to do. If it made me laugh consistently through the film, then I can forgive its shortcomings. Were there things that I wished Isn’t It Romantic had touched on more in terms of calling rom-coms out on their bull sh*t? Sure. Were there times a line wouldn’t land or moments of physical humor that would feel somewhat forced? Yes. Was this rather predictable and not exactly the most original movie ever? Certainly. Did I care? Not really. I will say for the first ten to fifteen minutes I was relatively concerned about the film’s tone and style of humor to be revolved around only fat jokes or poorly executed prat falls; one of the first things that happens is Rebel Wilson getting hit by a food trolley and her falling flat on her face, then immediately gets called fat. This made me worried, but once things started kicking off I was thoroughly enjoying myself from there on out.
A Rebel Without A Cause
Rebel Wilson is an actress that honestly has been “hit or miss” with me. When she’s funny, she is really freaking hilarious. But when she’s not, it can be pretty difficult to sit through. I’ve enjoyed her performances in Pain & Gain, Bridesmaids, and even the first Pitch Perfect. Then there are the Pitch Perfect sequels where every single joke was that she was fat and she would adlib endlessly. In Isn’t It Romantic, however, it seems like the director really reigned her in on this one and I thought that it was all the better for it. I thought she did a pretty solid job in the movie, even though there were times a fat joke would sneak in or she would start adlibbing with one of the supporting cast, but more often than not those moments would work out fine. In terms of the adlibbing, I liked how this movie was extremely brief with the takes involving that approach. Most modern comedies go overboard with their actors adlibbing, going completely off script and adding absolutely nothing to the film or even a laugh. Isn’t It Romantic used that style of comedy sparingly and appropriately where it usually fit. Sometimes it would be a little distracting, but for the most part it got a laugh out of me so I can forgive it. Wilson seems to stick the script here, while also interjecting some decent one-liners. Plus I thought she was given a few strong scenes to shine here as she showed a little bit of range in her acting chops towards the last act. No, I wouldn’t say anything Oscar worthy necessarily, but she proved to emote effectively and I appreciated that from her performance. She was funny when she needed to be and she supplied enough heart to win me over, especially when it came to the moral of the story, she worked very well with the material.
Rebel Wilson’s chemistry with the cast was also pretty charming and sometimes hilarious. I loved that her female best friend in reality was turned into this power hungry witch rival coworker in the rom-com world, I thought the actress (Betty Gilpin) did a fantastic job with the contrast in performances she has to give as she is completely believable in both roles. Adam Devine is another actor who is pretty “hit or miss”, much like Rebel. Only when Devine is left off the leash, it can get pretty violently unfunny, at least for me. The last film I saw him in was that sort of Die Hard parody flick, Game Over, Man! Now that was terribly difficult to get through and he was a major reason as to why. In this though, I thought that he did a fine job and was still allowed to make some decent jokes.
Oddly enough, the person I dislike the most in everything I’ve seen him in prior is now one of the highlights of this movie, that being Liam Hemsworth. I have never found this actor remotely charismatic or interesting in anything I’ve seen him in before. Paranoia, Independence Day: Resurgence, Expendables 2, the countless Hunger Games movies, there’s been nothing that I’ve liked him in. Despite the quality of what movie he was in, Liam Hemsworth has been a block of wood to watch. For me anyways. Yeah, it would be easy to say that he’s the “poor man’s Chris Hemsworth”, but I feel like that’s an insult to poor men. Here though, he actually made me laugh a lot. He was possibly one of my favorite parts of the whole film, there was just so many funny things involving his character as the good looking romantic co-lead and his physical performance was even getting a decent laugh or two out of me. Maybe it’s because of the roots of this role being so stereotypical and shallow that it worked, maybe Liam was just finally able to sink his teeth into this performance a bit more than previously, or it possibly could that this is probably the first time he uses his natural Australian accent. Maybe that’s the key… stop trying to be American dude. You’re an Aussie, use that, my friend!
It’s Funny, And That’s All It Needs To Be.
After I looked up the director, strangely enough it all kind of made sense to me as this was the same man who directed a little slasher parody a few years ago called The Final Girls. And there’s a lot of similarities that I can see between the two, even though they aren’t written by the same people, the director has a bit of an eye for satire while also supplying a good amount of heart with the characters. Although I will say that Isn’t It Romantic, I believe is the stronger film since Final Girls had problems that I felt that this overcame. Neither one by any means are perfect, but both I feel are entertaining enough. There are even times in the filmmaking aspects of the film that I found to be well handled as the movie’s cinematography is given an attention to detail that I admired; in the real world, the color scheme is more muted and the camera work takes on a slightly more handheld feel. In the rom-com world, everything is bright and colorful, the camera movements are far more steady and swift. It is a good looking movie at that too, some shots actually looked gorgeous, even in a stereotypical rom-com way it looks impressive.
Isn’t It Romantic is funny, which all I really wanted out of the movie is to laugh. It succeeded at its job. Does it have issues? Does it not make sense and is a bit farfetched? Sure, but if the movie provides enough successful comedy then why nitpick it? Just have a good time with it. If someone doesn’t find it particularly funny, I can’t particularly argue with that since comedy is severely subjective. What I may laugh my ass off at, someone else may simply groan and roll their eyes to. But, for me personally, I laughed. A lot actually. Out loud at times even. Could there have been more done with the genre and more of a clever spin on the clichés? Sure, but as it is, I’m happy enough with the end result. Plus, it’s only like eighty minutes long and it breezes by fast. So go check it out if you get the chance, I feel it’s well worth a watch. Get some laughs and make a date night out of it, it’ll give you a good time if you’re open to it.
That’s All Folks…
So what did you think of Isn’t It Romantic? Did you like it? Dislike it? Agree or disagree with my review? What’s your favorite romantic comedy? Am I just a lonely sack that obsesses too much about film and needs desperately to get a date? Comment down below and let me know! Also, if you so happened to enjoy my review then please do me a little favor and share this article around the social media world. Thank you so much for reading, have yourselves a heart-rific day… I’m sorry.
© 2019 John Plocar