I’m starting to wonder if there are enough of these ‘character bumps their head, wakes up to some wacky side effects, then has a life-changing epiphany’ movies to qualify as a genre? Probably not, but the latest one “Isn’t It Romantic” is certainly not the first movie to build itself around this narrative gimmick.
To be honest this was not something I originally planned to see. I’m not all that high on either Rebel Wilson or Liam Hemsworth and the film’s trailer was pretty cringy. But then I began reading good things about it. Suddenly its attempt at spoofing the romantic comedy genre sounded a little more intriguing. It does start promising but begins to chug in the middle before becoming more or less the very thing it’s satirizing.
Any issues I have with “Isn’t It Romantic” can’t be traced to Wilson who gives a sincere and sympathetic performance. It’s hard not to feel for her character Natalie. She’s a young New York architect with self-esteem issues who seems content with the hapless hand she has been dealt. She’s taken advantage of by her co-workers and even her company’s new billionaire playboy client (Hemsworth). The one exception is Natalie’s best friend Josh (Adam DeVine) who is clearly smitten with her but (of course) she’s oblivious to it.
Enter the big bump on the noggin that knocks Natalie out cold. She wakes up in an alternate reality with hunky guys galore and all of them head-over-heels for her. Tops on the list is Hemsworth’s snobbish and studly Blake, now a airheaded dolt. Several other weird anomalies leads Natalie to conclude she is trapped inside a romantic comedy.
Director Todd Strauss-Schulson gets as much mileage as he can out of his rom-com parody. It works best in the film’s first half where everything is still nice and fresh. Anyone who has watched their fair share of romantic comedies will get a kick out of several gags that poke fun at many of the genres most overused tropes. And Wilson does a good job falling into the wackiness of the whole concept. Hemsworth is equally good as the good-looking goofball, reminding me of the role his brother Chris played in the not-so-great 2016 “Ghostbusters” reboot.
But the second half doesn’t fare quite as well. Strauss-Schulson takes a handful of jokes and milks them dry. A cringe-worthy gay sidekick and a constantly obscured f-bomb top that list. And then there is what I alluded to above, the movie becoming what it’s spoofing. You can actively see the movie working to differentiate itself from the standard romantic comedy norm, but at the same time it very much ends up feeling really similar – silly, a little sappy, and utterly predictable.
“Isn’t It Romantic” is a decent entry into the head bonk genre. It’s not a terrible movie, but it’s far from being the sharp-witted satire that it very well could have been. It’s a movie that leans heavily on its central conceit but doesn’t really see it all the way through. That’s a shame because the cast certainly seems game. It’s the material that let’s them down in the end.
VERDICT – 2.5 STARS
I wonder how I’d go about that for a quiz haha. Pity so many flaws with this movie.
HA! May be worth a shot. It does have its share of flaws. At the same time it’s a movie that has its moments. I just wish it had more of them.
While I never did review it, I was a fan of this movie. It’s like Last Action Hero, except it’s rom-com instead of action, so full of tongue-in-cheek humor on genre specific stuff.
I was feeling that way through the first half. I just didn’t feel it had the conviction to see its parody all the way through. Maybe I was expecting a bit too much.
Nothing is perfect, Keith! Haha, no, I do understand, and while the second half may not be as good as the first, I try my best to look at the big picture. The second half is certainly connected to the first, and the first half is the foundation. If it were the other way around, we all probably would’ve shut it off
I get what you’re saying, but I did start to shut it off mainly because for me it lost its steam. I kinda got tired of the same gags popping up and the predictability of the whole thing was disappointing. I kept hoping for it to throw me a curveball.
The head bonk genre – I love it!
I did enjoy this one but it’s start was stronger than its end.
Definitely! I thought it began with a ton of promise. I ended up pretty indifferent with the whole thing.
I enjoyed this more than you did but I also felt it lost its way a little. I thought it was feeding into the narrative that Natalie had to be attracted to Josh because he was a “nice guy”. If she didn’t fancy him up until this point why did she after he had “completed” the romcom? She could have just loved herself and that was enough.
YES! I actually that would have been a much better ending. Instead it did the most obvious thing.
I’d probably check it out on TV though I can see where it would go and all of the tropes expected in a rom-com. Yet, it’s likely I’ll watch it and be like “it’s OK”.
I think you will. It may be worth a watch. I definitely wouldn’t waste a theater ticket on it though.
As a huge lover of romcoms I thought it was hilarious. Even the gay best friend was a hilarious take on that common trope in the genre. It’s supposed to be cringy. That’s why it is funny
It’s supposed to be cringy, I agree. But I was tired of him after the first couple of times he popped up. I just felt it ultimately ran out of interesting ideas.
I can see that. I thought they were smart to keep the movie a lean 98 minutes. I personally didn’t grow tired of the humor and was laughing throughout. There were tons of easter eggs within the movie to romcoms and that was a lot of fun. They evidently reference over 120 films!
I think what surprised me most was Wilson and Hemsworth. Neither are close to being favorites of mine but both opened my eyes a bit.
I admit I really want to see this – I do like romcoms and Rebel Wilson has climbed into a corner of my heart. Not expecting it to be anywhere close to the best in the genre but I am always happy when a new film pops up as a romcom – too few the last couple of years.
I don’t mind a good romcom either. Good ones can be a lot of fun. And this one did win over a lot of people so it could be worth giving it a shot.
I thought it was really cute! Yeah you are right it falls for the same cliches in the end but at least in this one they didn’t replace Rebel with “hotter” version for the fantasy world so at least it avoided the cliches of Head Bump genre 🙂
Wilson really surprised me here. I’m not a fan of her louder comedy but I found her to be pretty genuine here.
I thought that this movie was pretty good. Despite being super formulaic and predictable, it was definitely a fun and amusing feature and was a “love letter” to anyone who loves romantic comedies.
And that’s what I’ve read others say. I do like good romantic comedies. For me this movie embraced/celebrated more of what pushes me away from some of them.