Sorry, no, that’s not Thor.
It’s safe to say romantic comedies aren’t among our favourite genres. Sure, there are some good ones — The Princess Bride (even though it incorporates fantasy elements), Groundhog Day and As Good as it Gets to name a few — but for the most part we’ll only sit down to watch one when an action movie has been viewed in exchange. Isn’t it Romantic takes aim at the genre, creating a self-aware romcom that pokes fun at its inspirations’ many cliches.
Architect Natalie (Rebel Wilson) is a woman that was raised to hate the idea of the romantic comedy, something she shares in great detail with her assistant Whitney (Betty Gilpin). Within that is a belief that someone like her could never find love that way to the point that she’s oblivious to the affections of friend and office mate Josh (Adam DeVine).
One day while riding the subway home from work, Natalie fends off a mugger before knocking herself unconscious by running directly into a pole. She awakes to find that she’s now the object of every man’s affection in a sanitized, suddenly pleasant-smelling version of New York City. A chance encounter with Blake (Liam Hemsworth), a client that ignored her at an earlier meeting but is now smitten by her, confirms her worst fears: she’s living in a romcom.
When she tries to convince Josh of what’s happening, their conversation is interrupted when he spots a woman choking and saves her. This turns out to be Isabella (Priyanka Chopra), a yoga ambassador that immediately falls for Josh. Believing her only way out is to embrace the tropes of a romantic comedy, Natalie sets about getting Blake to fall in love with her. When that doesn’t free her, however, she has to find another path to gain her freedom.
While Wilson and DeVine are pretty much the same in both realities, all of the secondary characters get to have fun in their real-world and alternate forms. Gilpin gets the most divergent character as Wilson’s assistant turned rival, but Brandon Scott Jones is the funniest as her flamboyantly homosexual friend, Donny. Of all the stereotypes they play up here, Jones gets the best material.
There is a lot of funny gags and moments throughout the film, and the spontaneous dance numbers are cleverly implemented and choreographed. The karaoke scene might be the best in the film, and the whole homage aspect of these numbers is sure to elicit some nostalgia. The movie also manages to steer clear of anything that could be considered harsh or cutting with its light-hearted mockery keeping the tone perpetually whimsical.
Even at less than 90 minutes, Isn’t it Romantic feels stretched thin at times, as though it had a handful of clever ideas and twists, then built up a feature-length film around them. Wilson undoubtedly tries hard, and she gets some laughs, but she also feels overexposed — how many times can she be struck by something? Judged against other movies we’ve seen her in, she seemed like a better fit as part of an ensemble cast than in a full-on lead role.
There’s almost something of an identity crisis here, as the movie positions itself as a parody of a romantic comedy and then eventually just decides to become one. The exact outcome you expect to happen, happens, without so much as a curve ball. So why talk about how incredibly predictable the genre is only to be incredibly predictable?
THE BONUS FEATURES
Four deleted scenes are included, with the funniest being the dressing room montage in which, instead of Natalie trying everything on, it’s Donny trying on all the outfits while she sits in bed and eats gelato. Beyond that, the only other extra is a short featurette about the film’s dance numbers. All told it’s barely over 10 minutes.
If you’ve watched a lot of romantic comedies you’ll probably enjoy the meta humour going on in Isn’t it Romantic, and if romcosm aren’t your thing, this version is one of the more painless to sit through.