The best thing about Isn’t It Romantic is that it draws attention to the well-known clichés of romantic comedy. The worst thing about the film is that it doesn’t have anything to say or add to those very clichés. Despite its original idea, the movie remains only another banal chick flick, just another forgettable romantic comedy.
Isn’t It Romantic kicks off as a satirical take on the romantic comedy genre with a heroine (played by Rebel Wilson) who detests romcoms. But after getting hit on the head, she wakes up in a world that plays out like a romantic comedy film. The movie is directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson and written by an all-female team of Erin Cardillo, Dana Fox and Katie Silberman. Unfortunately, in spite of the high concept and unique starting point of the movie, the female writers do not save the day this time. The film stars Rebel Wilson, Liam Hemsworth, Adam Devine and Priyanka Chopra, all type-casted in their usual roles. Isn’t It Romantic was released in US cinemas on 13 February, and internationally on Netflix on 28 February. I would highly recommend streaming the film, instead of paying for a movie ticket.
The story focuses on Australian-born, New York City architect Natalie (Rebel Wilson), who works hard at her job, but hardly ever gets noticed at work. Her colleagues exploit her kindness. At a crucial meeting where Natalie is supposed to pitch her idea, the new handsome client (Liam Hemsworth) mistakes her for an assistant. Her earnest best friend (Adam Devine) seems to be obsessed with a swimsuit model on a billboard (Priyanka Chopra). Whil Natalie’s assistant (Betty Gilpin) spends more time watching cheesy romcoms than actually assisting her. And if things weren’t bad enough, Natalie gets mugged waking to discover that her life has suddenly changed into her worst nightmare: a romantic comedy.
So how does a woman who hates romantic comedies realise that she is stuck in one? Well, first of all after her accident she finds herself in a deluxe ER room with flower bouquets and a handsome doctor flirting with her. The clothes she receives from lost&found include a white dress and a hat just like the ones Julia Roberts wears in Pretty Woman. Natalie also notices that New York looks and smells different than usual. She is nearly run over by a limousine, out of which steps out a new, gentler version of Blake. Now he speaks with an Australian accent, takes her home and writes his phone number on flower petals. Still confused, Natalie enters her apartment that is much larger and nicer than before, stocked with designer clothes and hundreds of shoes in her size. More people take on new roles in Natalie’s life. Her grumpy neighbour becomes her stereotypical gay best friend and her former assistant is now her rival at work. But it takes the ambient sounds censoring her cursing for Natalie to realise that she is stuck in a PG-13 romantic comedy.
The obligatory romantic comedy clichés and stereotypes described above are funny and work well within the movie. Rebel Wilson is entertaining and easy to root for as the lead. All I wish is that Isn’t It Romantic had taken more chances and let her main character go even further. That could have been a satirical look at romantic comedies. Now it is just a romcom that laughs at the genre’s compulsory formulas but doesn’t overwrite them or show us a better version of the well-known patterns.
Isn’t It Romantic is merely a missed opportunity that falls into its own trap. It embraces and makes fun of the conventional romcom recipe in many ways. However, referencing Pretty Woman, Notting Hill and 13 Going on 30, and making fun of their formulaic aspects in this postmodern movie landscape is not enough anymore. Especially not when at the end of the film that same blueprint that was ridiculed before is delivered step by step without any irony. So you may ask what was the point then? Creating a traditional romantic comedy that works is no easy task in itself. Making fun of something specific for the entire course of a movie is even harder. But reforming a genre and taking the well-known film tropes in a fresh new direction is almost a mission impossible. I believe that Isn’t It Romantic should have just aimed a little lower and give us a well-done romantic comedy. It would have been more than enough.
This was my review of Isn’t It Romantic. If you’re interested in reading more of my movie reviews, you can find all of them by clicking here. So what did you think of Isn’t It Romantic? Did it manage to live up to its promise and give us a satirical version of a romantic comedy? What are your favourite romcoms of all time? Are there any self-reflective ones on your list? I would love to read your opinions on this movie and romantic comedies in general, so please leave me lots of lovely comments below.
Source of Featured Image: Isn’t It Romantic (2019)