Isn’t It Romantic, 2019.
Directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson.
Starring Rebel Wilson, Liam Hemsworth, Adam Devine, and Priyanka Chopra.
A woman who despises romantic comedies suddenly finds herself trapped in one after suffering a concussion and must find her way back to the real world by falling in love.
Films that satire the genre they’re in can be a bit tricky to appeal to audiences. They can either be too self-aware or come across as making fun of the very audience who enjoy that genre. Fortunately, director Todd Strauss-Schilson’s romantic comedy parody Isn’t It Romantic with Rebel Wilson strikes a nice balance between poking fun at romantic comedies and being one. While the film isn’t as compelling as it tries to be, it’s still entertaining enough for an afternoon watch, but is it worth owning on blu-ray?
Wilson gives a fairly funny and strong performance as Natalie, the romantic cynic who doesn’t buy into romantic comedies and gets trapped in her worst nightmare where everything, from her apartment, social life and love interests, are straight out of a romantic comedy after suffering a concussion. It’s no surprise her comedic timing is great throughout the film as she balances being a cynical, awkward and snarky character. She displays good onscreen chemistry with both Adam DeVine and Liam Hemsworth as her best friend and love interest respectively. Priyanka Chopra also gets to flex her comedy muscles a bit after appearing mostly in dramatic mainstream roles. The main cast get on well together and do good jobs playing the actual characters and their romantic comedy counterparts, particularly Hemsworth.
Isn’t It Romantic isn’t shy about poking fun at itself or the genre it’s in. Almost every trope seen in romantic comedies is at play here, such as the meet-cute situations, the size and style of Natalie’s apartment or her gay best friend Donny, played by Brandon Scott Jones. Even the style of the film’s visuals changes once Natalie enters the romantic world, swapping out a muted palette for vibrant colours and bright lights for the rest of the film. It is fun to see the film play with the common romantic tropes and why some are so constant for the genre while others might be more problematic given the changing times between what audiences expect out of a 1990’s romcom versus a modern one now. A huge part of the film’s charm, though, is how easy it is to see Wilson and the cast are enjoying themselves as they poke fun at the genre or during the many heightened and out of the blue musical numbers they erupt into.
However, while the film’s self-awareness is one of its strengths, it is also a weakness. Isn’t It Romantic‘s story can’t help but fall into some of the same trappings its lampooning. It feels like it defeats its own purpose when it does, though the film’s ultimate message about being comfortable and loving yourself is a bit of a subversion from most romcoms. The story does move along quickly thanks to its hour and a half runtime, though characters make sudden transitions in their behavior at random. Part of that is again making fun of romantic tropes, but a couple character choices don’t really add up even if they do take place in Natalie’s dreamworld. Most of the jokes land pretty solidly though due to the cast’s comedic abilities and chemistry.
As for the blu-ray itself, it’s pretty bare bones in the way of features. There’s no discussion on the creation of the idea or the fun in satirizing a very successful and beloved film genre. Rather, the only specials you’ll find are a group of deleted scenes of extended jokes that are easy to see why they were cut and ‘I Wanna Dance!’, a feature on the dance numbers in the film. This one is interesting as Strauss-Schulson, Wilson and the cast talk about their inspiration in past romcomcs that have utilized musical and dance numbers and how they rehearsed for them, though even it doesn’t go too in-depth in their process.
Isn’t It Romantic is entertaining thanks to Rebel Wilson and her co-stars. While Strauss-Schulson succeeds in satirizing romcoms without alienating its core audience, it does fall into the typical traps of romantic comedies that the film itself points out and not all the characters are incredibly satisfying to watch. The lack of features may not bother some, but it’s a missed opportunity for an interesting idea. Fans of Wilson and the genre will enjoy the film and even those who don’t watch romcoms will find some of the jokes funny.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★