Isn't It Romantic
Love is a universal language, and a life-long pursuit after puberty to find that special someone. Some love stories are as if they were plucked right out of a movie. I’m a testament to just that. Fell in love with a girl online, like in “You Got Mail.” We then didn’t meet face to face for almost 3 years but connected in the heart of New York City outside of “Little Mermaid” on Broadway and shared a first kiss as tender as Mandi Moore’s and Shane West’s in “A Walk to Remember” outside of the theater. That spark, that “Oomph” like Jennifer Lopez describes, in “The Wedding Planner.” I got my magic movie moment, but that isn’t always the case for others.
In a classic romantic comedy, which is one of my favorite genres, there’s often an opposing person or force whose intentions are similar, wanting love, but just drawing the short straw and usually sustains some sort of injury along the way. In the case for Rebel Wilson she gets to fall in the former category and does so epically in “Isn’t it Romantic.”
Natalie (Rebel Wilson), a not so lovable young architect turned off to the idea of love and relationships finds herself trapped in a Romantic Comedy; and its PG-13!
I’m sorry yall I really love that line. I get it, if this type of comedy won’t do it for most, and I’m not the biggest Rebel Wilson fan. But thankfully I’ve found a project she’s in where what she does works; for the most part.
Natalie is not your typical Rom-com leading lady either. She’s no Meg, or Kate, or Kathryn, or J-Lo and that’s the point. This film has the pleasure of placing its tongue firmly in its cheek, doesn’t take its self seriously, yet still celebrates the conventions of the genre while poking fun at them.
It’s pretty simple just like all the classics too. Girl and guy. Will they or wont they. The best friend stuck in the friend zone. Girl goes after wrong guy. Gets guy. Realizes that wasn’t the right decision and that her dream guy was the best friend all along. Except in this movie; the 3rd act twist and resolving plot does a DOUBLE DIP!
Let’s take it from the top though.
Natalie lives in a tiny apartment in a loud, smelly, and obnoxious New York. She works at a small drab architectural design firm, has a frumpy assistant whose good looks are caked underneath ridiculous makeup crimes and a horrible wig. Though she’s more than capable at doing her job, she’s grossly underappreciated and treated like the lowest person at the office. There’s a shitty boss pandering to a snooty yuppie client swinging his money around and demanding coffee from Natalie who is clearly trying to present her design to land a big deal and get the validation she deep down seeks.
Natalie’s outward appearance matches her cold loveless heart. She grew up as a child fawning over the great Rom-Coms we all loved but her crass and alcoholic mother convinces her to give up her dreams of movie magic love she sees on TV and in film. That “Oomph” wasn’t meant for women like them.
Josh (Adam Devine) Natalie’s best friend is an average, unassuming, lovable dork, who you know has the hots for her but for some odd reason she just can’t see it. One faithful day after work, Natalie in typical Rebel Wilson physical comedy is mugged and as she escapes the assailant she bangs her head into a subway pole.
She wakes up in a hospital room that practically glows, and a tall dark male model doctor with an accent struts in to take care of her. Unsure what’s going on and thinking her concussions symptoms are more severe than what she thought; she makes her way back home and life seems very different. New York feels very different. People are a hell of a lot nicer. The streets of New York are a hell of a lot cleaner and flowers are in bloom everywhere. “Isn’t it romantic” highlights the glossy presentation of Rom-Coms and makes fun of the artifice that covers all the movies in this genre. There are literally Cupcake Shops on every corner.
It’s quite hilarious, and really cute how much Natalie is having trouble trying to understand what’s going on. So much so, the rich jerk from her office Blake (Liam Hemsworth) pulls up alongside of her and gives her a ride in his stretch limo and exclaims how beguiling she is while locking eyes. Still turned off at this point Natalie gets home and finds that her apartment has tripled in size and has been filled with much nicer clothes, shoes and furniture.
Once again, the movie does a great job poking at the trendy elephant in the room at just how fantastical Rom-Com homes are. I’m sure Architects get paid, but to be able to cover the square footage of her NY apt and all the things you spend money on filling it up is super unrealistic.
Natalie tries to sleep it off and wakes up to her place, unchanged and boasting a new gay best friend Donny (Brandon Scott Jones) in her closest. Brandon is the real stand out in this film and paints a horrible portrait of what the gay best friend role is in these types of movies and how hyper stereo typical they are; and it works hilarious well.
Natalie’s assistant Whitney (Betty Gilpin) has changed and becomes the office hot bitch that naturally is in opposition with her as no good Rom-Com is without its female heel. While, Josh is still very much himself the 2, of course go for a stroll in Central Park where Josh leaps into action and gives the Heimlich to an uber hot yoga ambassador super model Isabella (Priyanka Chopra). She instantly becomes smitten by Josh and they speed off to spend the remaining afternoon together. At this point things are coming together, culminating into an ultimate realization with the score intensifying that she is trapped in a Romantic Comedy; and its PG13!
So great. This movie, and I’m sorry if I’m repeating myself works so well. It operates with so much freedom because it doesn’t have to take itself seriously that everything that happens onscreen is unadulterated fun. Your typical 2nd act advances the plot and drags every now and then. A romance that Natalie initially resists buds, but she must pursue as she believes the only way too escape this reality is to progress in the story and get the guy to fall in love with her like In the movies she watched growing up.
Rebel and Liam’s chemistry works and 75% the jokes land. When they don’t it is noticeable, but they recover quickly and move along. Even while poking fun, there’s a lot of lessons learned as Natalie allows herself to be more vulnerable opening herself up to love. However, like in true Rom-Com fashion the goal you think you want rarely turns out to be the best for you and at this point of the movie, filled with catchy pop songs and super fun dance numbers, the budding relationship between Josh and Isabella fast tracks to an elaborate and outlandish engagement; sets off the alarm to Natalie that it was Josh all along.
Natalie dashes to the church to; what we think, stop the wedding, but does the opposite. This is the most tender moment of the entire movie where her days in this reality has taught her to open her heart. Not to have it filled with the love of Josh, but with the love for herself
She hits her head again exiting the church and wakes up back in the bead to a more honest portrayal of an NYC hospital. With a 2nd chance at life, Natalie finds the courage she gained in her amnesia state and becomes the boss she always wanted to be. She’s not here to take shit from lower level office workers or be under appreciated by her boss or Real-life Blake. She gets the project she’s been working hard toward and ultimately gets Josh too!
The ensemble really helps to elevates the entire film and should be praised for their collective work. This is the most memorable Liam Hemsworth has been on screen in forever. In a traditional Rom-Com this performance would be the type of role you’d want to stay far away from; but with the clever writing implemented the sand box at work in this film left plenty of room for everyone including Liam to succeed. The pacing at the beginning of the movie gets things off to an awkward start but the inciting incident redeems the film and wraps up rather nicely and its irresistible to not smile.
“Isn’t it Romantic” is a paradox movie that flips the genre and turns it inside out allowing us to laugh and love all the cheese it oozes. With a clever narrative and an ensemble playing well off one another we get to celebrate all the conventions of what we find dumb, but ultimately need life. “Isn’t it Romantic,” has its heart in the right place and teaches us that life is like a parking garage. There dark and closed off but asks us a question. What if we opened them up? Let people see inside. What if they were invisible and they put themselves out there. People could look at them and see something; see beauty, see something, special.
By far my corniest review ending yet; and I love it!
KOLBYTOLDME RATING- 7/10
Director: Todd Strauss- Schulson
Writers: Erin Cardillo, dana Fox, Katie Silberman
Starring: Rebel Wilson, Liam Hemsworth, Adam Devine, Priyanka Chopra
Run Time: 88 mins