Comedy Fantasy

Review: ‘Isn’t It Romantic’ is a Rom-Com for Those Who Hate Rom-Coms

February 12, 2019Ben MK

For some people, Valentine's Day is an occasion for romance, while there are others who might scoff at the notion of an entire day dedicated to love. But like it or not, one woman is about to experience firsthand what it's like to be in a real-life rom-com — and she just might realize it's not as terrible as she thinks.

Ever since she was a young girl, Natalie (Rebel Wilson) has been told that fairy tale romances weren't meant for girls like her. Fast forward 25 years, and Natalie has grown into a jaded 30-something whose cynical views on the L-word have only grown stronger with age. An underappreciated architect at a New York City firm who has yet to find her soulmate, Natalie spends her days trying to educate her assistant Whitney (Betty Gilpin) on the rom-com genre's many flaws, and griping to her co-worker and best friend Josh (Adam Devine) about her life. But when she suffers a concussion during a subway mugging, Natalie finds herself waking up in the hospital with the world around her completely changed.

Suddenly, the city no longer smells like excrement, her apartment has received a major upgrade — complete with a walk-in wardrobe filled with every shoe imaginable — and she's got a stereotypically gay best friend in her formerly standoffish neighbor, Donny (Brandon Scott Jones) across the hall. The biggest change by far, however, is that guys seem to be falling for her left and right, but none more so than a hunk named Blake (Liam Hemsworth), who also happens to be a potential new client that her firm is trying to woo. Could Natalie be losing her mind? Or is the universe trying to tell her something that she should have already figured out by now?

Despite the obvious parallels to Amy Schumer's similarly-themed I Feel Pretty, what director Todd Strauss-Schulson (The Final Girls, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas) and writers Erin Cardillo, Dana Fox and Katie Silberman do with the material here winds up being significantly more enjoyable, especially with a cast such as this. From Devine to Hemsworth, Gilpin to Priyanka Chopra (the latter of whom plays a swimsuit model with a thing for average guys), everyone here is game for giving it their all to help sell the tongue-in-cheek concept — whether it's poking fun at the genre's tropes or taking part in a musical number choreographed to Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)" or Madonna's "Express Yourself."

Of course, the movie's MVP is undoubtedly Wilson, and in this, her first starring role, the Aussie actress transitions out of the quirky, supportive friend role (which she's played in such comedies as the Pitch Perfect series) with ease. Needless to say, it's one thing to write a character like Natalie, but it's another thing entirely to be tasked with bringing her to life in a funny but relatable way. Yet, Wilson does so with ample confidence, charm and on-point comedic timing, never missing a step — that is, unless the script calls for it.

It all adds up to a rom-com aimed squarely at that demographic of moviegoers harboring an aversion to films of the like. And even though Isn't It Romantic won't be receiving a theatrical release outside of North America — instead, it'll be headed straight to Netflix internationally — it nonetheless makes for a fun way to celebrate Valentine's Day, no matter whether you adore or despise the holiday.

Isn't It Romantic releases February 13th, 2019 from Warner Bros. Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of PG-13 for language, some sexual material, and a brief drug reference. Its runtime is 1 hr. 28 min.

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