Isn’t it Romantic

I’m one of those guys that thinks every movie trailer makes the film look amazing. This was one of those rare times where the trailer just made me roll my eyes, but the movie surprised me by actually working.

It was a great role for Rebel Wilson to take. Often times, actresses like her and Melissa McCarthy, just play crass, obnoxious characters. In this, she shows her sweet side. You can’t help but fall in love with her character and root for her to get the guy. Whether that guy is Liam Hemsworth or Adam DeVine (her love interest in the Pitch Perfect films).

Director Todd Strauss-Schulson (who gave us the surprisingly funny A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas), doesn’t so much upend the table on romcoms, but satirizes, and then turns this into one. And nobody will mind. It’s the perfect date movie, because the women will love seeing these things they enjoy about romcoms. The men will like it because it makes fun of them. We’ll all like it because we laugh a lot watching it, and it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy. This is the movie that I wish Austenland (the Keri Russell film from five years ago) would’ve been able to pull off as well as Strauss-Schulson did here.

Natalie (Rebel Wilson) is an architect on the low-end of the totem pole. She basically works on the parking structures of the big hotels and casinos. That means other architects can ask her to throw away their garbage, or go fetch coffee. And when she’s nervous about pitching an idea to

a good looking big wig (Liam Hemsworth), things don’t go so well. They go worse when she’s in the subway and gets mugged. That ends with her getting knocked on the noggin’, and waking up in what looks like the loveliest setting imaginable. Flowers are everywhere, and couples are all happy. New York no longer smells like smog and pee, but lavender. The 99 Cent stores on her block are now cupcake bakeries and wedding dress shops.

In this new world, she still has her BFF Josh (Adam Levine). We could pick up early in the movie that he liked her (with quick glances, or invites to karaoke). She was oblivious to this, as movies have brainwashed her to believe that happy endings don’t come for women that look like her.

Her assistant Whitney (Betty Gilpin, in a role that would’ve been played by Joan Cusack in 1990) tries to get Natalie to see the light, on both her co-worker and on being cynical about romcoms (which she watches on her computer during work hours).

Just as Richard E. Grant’s gay character was our favorite thing in Can You Ever Forgive Me?, neighbor Donny (Brandon Scott Jones, who was also in the Grant movie) is hysterical in his role. He goes from being the womanizing guy who slams the door in her face, to the gay best friend/sidekick, always rooting her on and saying outrageous things.

Screenwriters Dana Fox, Erin Cardillo, and Katie Silberman also give us a few musical numbers that are incredible. Two of those are outside at a fountain. The other is at a karaoke bar with Natalie belting out Whitney Houston.

Two songs I hate to admit I like, Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles” and Annie Lennox’s “No More I Love You’s” are used well (the Carlton song more for comedic purposes).

It was also refreshing that this movie didn’t rely on bathroom humor or making Natalie a bumbling idiot. She fell down once during the karaoke, but turned that into a funny move. When she’s running to stop a wedding, it’s not about her tripping, sweating, barfing, or any other bodily function. She’s noticing a butterfly near her face, or the fact that she’s in slow motion. And even what is said by all the characters, once she shows up at the wedding, is so fresh and original.

Hemsworth shows he has some comedic chops, too. When he gripes about koalas not being cute (“They’re vicious and have chlamydia”), or tells Natalie she’s “beguiling” a few too many times. She’s got to ask him, “Did you just learn what that word means?”

Oh, and he’s got the great line, “I’ll have what she’s having” from the best romcom ever — When Harry Met Sally.

Since this movie makes fun of all the romcom cliches and basically is a romcom, it sort of gets to have its cake (and chocolate-covered strawberries and champagne), and eat it, too.

It gets an extra half a star for going on about how sexy the name Josh is (thank you, Priyanka Chopra).

3 ½ stars out of 5.

 

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