Natalie is a no-nonsense architect living in New York whose sole focus is her career. When an attempt to thwart a mugger leaves her with a concussion, her world opens up in a surprising way that flips dreary for pastels and romance. The only problem? Natalie wants back to reality!
Natalie is a little girl obsessed with love – specifically the kind she sees in rom-coms. That is until her mother (Ab Fab’s Jennifer Saunders) gives her a dose of reality, saying, “They’ll never make movies about girls like us. It would be too sad; they’d have to sprinkle Prozac on the ice cream. There are no happy endings.” And with that, Natalie clicks off Pretty Woman and clicks on her version of real life.
Fast-forward to adult Natalie (Rebel Wilson), who’s never shaken the harsh lesson her mother taught her. Though she’s successful, she’s still overlooked; often taken advantage of and treated like an assistant, even though she’s an architect at her firm. When a super-hot new client, Blake (Liam Hemsworth), breezes in and treats her like crap, it only solidifies her world view, despite the fact that her sweet coworker, Josh (Adam Devine), constantly tells her she’s awesome. It’s only when a subway flirtation goes seriously awry (resulting in a mugging that leads to the concussion) that she begins to see herself in a whole new light. But is the constant glow what she really wants?
This is the unique premise behind the rom-com spoof, Isn’t It Romantic, the delightful new comedy directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson, and written by Erin Cardillo, Dana Fox, and Katie Silberman. Even if you don’t necessarily know those names, you most likely know their work – The Final Girls, Netflix’s Set It Up, What Happens in Vegas, and How to be Single are a few of the titles under their belts. These are people who have studied every nuance of rom-coms, and their dedication and love of the genre shows. No trope is left unturned, from the requisite gay best friend (played hilariously by Brandon Scott Jones), to a karaoke scene, to the slow-mo “run to find the one you love” – they’re all here, and done to a T.
Also spot-on is the casting, headed by the aforementioned Rebel Wilson, Liam Hemsworth, and Adam Devine. (Dare I say it’s pitch perfect?) There are so many standouts here, I may as well just link you to the IMDb page to save time on listing everyone in the film. Another bonus is the lean runtime of approximately an hour and a half – leaving room for a ton of laughs and zero plot fatigue. (It’s so fun; if anything, most of us left wishing it was a bit longer.)
Though I was hard-pressed to figure out why Natalie was so desperate to return to her regular life – why not stay in this technicolored perfection? – it was still a blast watching her try to groundhog her way back to gritty realness, albeit with a few important upgrades. Even cynics will appreciate the winks at several well-trodden films, and the movie may even pick up some new fans along the way.
This is an absolute blast, sparkling from beginning to end. Whether you’re a die-hard rom-com fanatic or a casual fan, you’re guaranteed a good time. Who can argue with that?
Isn’t It Romantic (2019) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time you notice all of the extra “Easter eggs” hiding in the background. (An engagement ring on a street sign is one of my faves.)
Take a Drink: for every rom-com trope Natalie lists in her diatribe to her mousy coworker turned frenemy, Whitney (Betty Gilpin).
Take a Drink: whenever one of Natalie and Blake’s sex scenes fades to the next day.
Take a Drink: every time Blake says, “Beguiling.”
Do a Shot: for Liam Hemsworth’s sax solo!
I thought for sure this would be a film with extra scenes embedded in the credits – but nope, just the names of the hard-working peeps that made this little gem possible. (No small thing, by the way!)