Movie Review: Rom-Com Deconstruction Goes Down as Easy as a Cupcake in the Frothy and Insightful ‘Isn’t It Romantic’

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CREDIT: Warner Bros.

Starring: Rebel Wilson, Liam Hemsworth, Adam DeVine, Priyanka Chopra, Betty Gilpin

Director: Todd Strauss-Schulson

Running Time: 88 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Stereotypically PG-13 Rom-Com Behavior

Release Date: February 13, 2019

Do romantic comedies offer any applicable lessons for our own lives? Or are they all just toxic fantasies and at best valuable only for the escapism they offer? Isn’t It Romantic would like us to believe that even the most unrealistic rom-coms can provide inspiration for how to navigate our love lives. It’s a lesson that its main character Natalie (Rebel Wilson) would be wise to take to heart (and ultimately of course, she will). An architect living in an accurately smelly and sweaty New York City, she has been raised to be cynical about the genre, and fairly enough, she calls out its most destructive tropes: from the female co-workers who are mandatory rivals to the gay best friend who has no personal life of his own. But her cynicism blinds her to the existence of potential true love around her, partly because she does not believe that most guys would be interested in a “normal” girl like her. She is someone who would clearly benefit from saying “yes” more often, even if what she says yes to is living out an over-the-top stereotypical rom-com. Somehow, that experience leads to self-acceptance and fully listening to the people who truly appreciate her.

Nat is transported to this fantasy world when she hits her head while getting mugged in a subway station. She finds herself in a suspiciously fragrant version of NYC in which just about everyone is a little too open to the possibility of random meet-cutes. For her, that means a whirlwind romance with Blake (a never-better Liam Hemsworth), a client of hers who speaks almost exclusively in Buddhist aphorisms. And for Nat’s best friend and co-worker Josh (Adam DeVine), that means falling into the embrace of Isabella (Priyanka Chopra), the improbably employed “yoga ambassador.” It turns out that the rom-com storyline at play here is actually “best friends realize they were supposed to be together all along, almost before it’s too late,” and chances are pretty high that the corresponding happy ending will come to fruition. But the real raison d’etre of this whole affair is for Natalie to separate the chaff from the wheat of what rom-coms have to offer. Yes, they might be unrealistic and sometimes even toxic, but that is no reason to be miserable and reject love in our own lives. Isn’t It Romantic deconstructs to remind us why these silly, frothy stories are still worth telling.

Isn’t It Romantic is Recommended If You Like: Enchanted, They Came Together, Rebel Wilson and Adam DeVine’s chemistry in Pitch Perfect

Grade: 4 out of 5 Mornings After

This Is a Movie Review: ‘Game Over Man’ Posits: What If ‘Die Hard,’ But with a Scene of Analingus?

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CREDIT: Cate Cameron/Netflix

This review was originally posted on News Cult in March 2018.

Starring: Blake Anderson, Adam DeVine, Anders Holm, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Neal McDonough, Jamie Demetriou, Aya Cash, Rhona Mitra, Sam Richardson, Daniel Stern

Director: Kyle Newacheck

Running Time: 98 Minutes

Rating: Not Rated, But It Would Be a Hard R for Nudity Leading to Violence, Leading to More Violence (Basically Both Naked and Clothed Bodies Are Mutilated and Exploded)

Release Date: March 23, 2018 (Streaming on Netflix)

Suppose you want to shamelessly rip off Die Hard. It’s a reasonable enough desire. Plenty of folks have done it already. It was practically its own sub-genre for a while there. The knockouts have tapered, but the original is still there for new generations to discover and grow up loving. Thus the Workaholics trio of Blake Anderson, Adam DeVine, and Anders Holm have delivered to the bowels of the Netflix original realm Game Over, Man! in which the height of action thriller cinema is crossed with video game excess. What results is less a narrative movie and more a bizarre wish fulfillment fantasy.

Instead of off-duty cop John McClane, Game Over, Man! gives us The Dew Crew, three hotel workers thus named because of their affinity for a certain soft drink (even though we almost never see them drinking any Mountain Dew). Fashioning themselves entrepreneurs, they attempt to get financing for their “Skintendo Joysuit” (basically a full-body video game controller) from a vulgar celebrity (Utkarsh Ambudkar) partying at the hotel, but that is all derailed, of course, by a team of big-time thieves.

The Dew Crew get the McClane role by virtue of happenstance keeping them away while all the hostages are rounded up. So of course we know they will end up saving the day, but it is a wonder that they do not end up killing themselves instead. DeVine, for one, can never get beyond the mindset that they are in a real-life video game, as he remains singularly focused on getting the kill that the other two have already achieved. Anderson and Holm manage to have a little more awareness of the severity of the situation, but their survival is still mostly attributable to coincidence.

Anderson, DeVine, and Holm have clearly been given free rein to be as graphic as possible, and they take full advantage o. Body parts are variously mutilated and exploded, while there is plenty of male nudity, including one detached member that plays a pivotal climactic role. The shock routine is clearly meant to draw the laughs out, but the trouble is, there is no zest, no finesse to the deployment. Extremity for extremity’s sake can serve the purpose of disrupting snobbish tastes, but when you have an already receptive audience (which the Netflix algorithm will work to ensure), the effect is just numbing.

Game Over, Man! is Recommended If You Like: Excessive Violence and Excessive Comic Nudity

Grade: 2 out of 5 Vapes