Film Review: Isn’t It Romantic (2019)
Isn’t It Romantic is a loving satirical take on the romantic comedy genre, playing with and poking fun at many of the genre’s tropes. I guess you could say that it’s a film that goes meta. The film stars Rebel Wilson, Adam DeVine, Liam Hemsworth, and Priyanka Chopra. And for French and Saunders and Absolutely Fabulous fans, Jennifer Saunders puts in a cameo that is, well, absolutely fabulous.
Isn’t It Romantic follows a woman, cynical in love, who suddenly finds herself trapped in a romantic comedy, complete with a gay best friend, knowing inner-dialogue voiceovers, perfect apartment, and song-and-dance numbers. As she struggles to get back to her real life in the real world, she ends up on a journey of self-enlightenment.
The Romantic Cynic Thrust Into a Rom-Com
Natalie (Wilson) is an Australian architect, living in New York, whose childhood love of rom-coms has turned to cynicism. After all, women like her don’t get the happily ever after her mother had pounded into her head. She’s now taken that message to heart. Despite her prestigious position at work, she’s the office pushover, pushed into doing grunt work that’s not hers to do. She also lacks self-confidence and masks this with biting commentaries and snide asides.
Still, Natalie is funny, often with self-deprecating humor. Meanwhile, Natalie’s best friend at work is Josh (Adam DeVine), who is obviously interested in her romantically. But she is clueless, cloaked in her cynicism.
On the way home from work one day, Natalie gets mugged on the subway platform. In the struggle over her purse, she ends up banging her head into a metal pillar. And when she awakes, she is in a different world. A world of perfection and diffuse lighting, where hot men see her, look her in the eye, flirt. Where the streets are clean, and flowerboxes abound. And where her New York apartment is ginormous with an extensive wardrobe. Blake (Hemsworth), the dismissive and arrogant client in the real world, is now actively pursuing her, wooing her. He’s the perfect man, beautiful beyond compare.
Suffice it to say, Natalie is confused and gobsmacked, and much humor results as she tries to navigate this new world. In this world, she is the office’s star architect and treated as such. As she drops her guard, she starts to make some realizations about herself and about a certain friend at the office.
And, like many a rom-com before it, Natalie finds herself with a wedding to stop. And some realizations to make about herself and love and the significance of underrated romantic gestures of everyday love.
Lovingly Taking the Piss
Overall, Isn’t It Romantic is fun and funny. It lovingly takes the piss out of the rom-com genre, while ultimately underscoring the value of the genre. The movie is hugely referential, with throw outs to many Julia Roberts’ classics, including Pretty Woman, My Best Friend’s Wedding, and Runaway Bride. Rebel Wilson carries this film and is a very likable and relatable lead. There are moments of sidesplitting humor. Unfortunately, the writing feels a bit uneven sometimes. You have moments where it’s just spot on and others where it’s falling a bit flat.
That said, it’s a solid addition to the rom-com genre. And if you love a good meta-narrative, rom-com satire, like Clueless or Lost in Austen or Ella Enchanted or Dramaworld, then Isn’t It Romantic is the film to see.
Content Note: Rated PG-13 for language, some sexual material, and innuendos, as well as a brief drug reference (although no drug use is depicted onscreen).
Where to Watch: In theatres now in North America, on Netflix internationally.
Photo Credit: Warner Bros./New Line Cinema.
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