Anyone But You Comedy

Review: ‘Anyone But You’ is Extremely Watchable But Entirely Forgettable Date-Night Fodder

December 21, 2023Ben MK

Perhaps the most famous playwright in history, William Shakespeare wrote just under 40 plays in his lifetime. Still, despite the fact that his final play was written some 400 plus years ago, that hasn't stopped him from being a prolific influence to modern-day filmmakers. Whether it's straightforward adaptations like MacBeth, Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet, or more creative re-workings like 10 Things I Hate About You, West Side Story and The Lion King, the Bard's tales continue to live on to this day. And with the romantic comedy Anyone But You, director Will Gluck is adding one more film to that list, in this tale of two people too blinded by their emotions to realize that they're perfect for one another.

Borrowing from Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, the story follows Ben (Glen Powell) and Bea (Sydney Sweeney), two strangers who share a meet-cute at a coffee shop, but whose blossoming relationship quickly turns sour after Bea ditches Ben the morning after their one-night stand. Cut to six months later, and when the two are unexpectedly reunited to celebrate the engagement of Bea's sister, Halle (Hadley Robinson), and Ben's friend, Claudia (Alexandra Shipp), the bad blood is palpable. Obviously not wanting anything to do with each other, Ben and Bea would literally be anywhere else in the world other than in the same room together. Unfortunately for them, that soon becomes all but unavoidable, as the pair find themselves on the same plane headed to Sydney, Australia, where they're both supposed to be in Halle and Claudia's wedding party.

Forced to spend the next week trying not to kill each other, Ben and Bea prove to be a potential disaster in the making. So, in an effort to avert having their wedding overshadowed, Halle and Claudia conspire with their families — Claudia's brother, Pete (Gata), and their parents, Roger (Bryan) and Carol (Michelle Hurd), and Bea and Halle's parents, Leo (Dermot Mulroney) and Innie (Rachel Griffiths) — to try and trick Ben and Bea into falling back in love. What they don't count on, though, is for their would-be marks to catch onto their scheme. And when Ben and Bea start playing along to appease their friends and family, they discover that they might not be such a bad match after all. It all adds up to a sure-fire recipe for romance. But will Ben's old flame, Margaret (Charlee Fraser), and Bea's ex, Jonathan (Darren Barnet), throw a wrench in this twosome's second-go at courtship?

Much like Ben and Bea as a couple, the result looks exceedingly attractive on paper. However, on screen, Anyone But You often struggles to deliver anything more than dated romantic comedy tropes and cheesy, mediocre jokes. From the movie's opening scene, which proves to be a completely unironic throwback to rom-coms of the past, to the film's big, third-act romantic gesture, which should come as a surprise to absolutely no one in the audience, there's precious little about this formulaic genre exercise to suggest that Gluck and fellow screenwriter Ilana Wolpert didn't purposefully go out of their way to include every cliché and stereotype the genre has to offer. And while that might be a selling point to some, for other viewers, it will feel like something of a bait-and-switch, especially considering all the edgy hype the movie has enjoyed prior to its release.

Of course, it's hard to call this a total letdown. For although the film itself certainly leaves plenty to be desired, its two leads, Powell and Sweeney, more than make up for the movie's lack of ingenuity with their combined charm, chemistry and sizzling sex appeal. Without them, this tired and entirely predictable rom-com retread would undoubtedly be a great deal more insufferable; whereas, thanks to them, Anyone But You at least qualifies as eminently watchable — albeit perfectly forgettable — date-night fodder.

Anyone But You releases December 22nd, 2023 from Sony Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of R for language throughout, sexual content and brief graphic nudity. Its runtime is 1 hr. 43 min.

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