REVIEW: Isn’t It Romantic (2019)

US Theatrical Release Poster – Warner Bros. Pictures

The following is a quick review of Isn’t It Romantic — Directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson.

Released in theaters on Valentine’s Day in North America and at the end of February on Netflix elsewhere, Isn’t It Romantic is a film about a woman tired of a stale film genre who, then, suddenly finds herself inside of such a film. The film follows Rebel Wilson’s Natalie, an Australian woman living in New York City whose mother turned her off romantic-comedies as they presented scenarios that ‘weren’t made for girls like them.’

Underappreciated by herself and her bosses, the pessimistic architect Natalie one day finds herself in a tough situation — being mugged on an NYC subway station, hitting her head in the process thus knocking her unconscious.

When she wakes up, the Big Apple suddenly looks, smells, and sounds different. Men act differently around her, including her dismissive client played by Liam Hemsworth. Her apartment is suddenly unrealistically extravagant for an architect, and her neighbor is now her gay best friend. She’s in a romantic comedy, and the only way out is to figure out that she should love herself and open her eyes to the love right in front of her.

Director Todd Strauss-Schulson is no stranger to genre spoof films. His slasher parody The Final Girls is one of those underseen gems that I’d recommend to anyone that enjoys the genre. But although Isn’t It Romantic reunites the director with Adam DeVine (and DeVine with his Pitch Perfect co-star Rebel Wilson), the film is nowhere near as delightful or inventive as Strauss-Schulson’s slasher comedy. I think Isn’t It Romantic becomes rather dull fairly quickly as it too becomes victim to the formula it’s trying to make fun of.

“This is, like, ‘The Matrix’ for lonely women.”

However, it’s, honestly, very refreshing to have a plus-size actress be the star of a romantic comedy — albeit a rom-com deconstruction — and Rebel Wilson does do a fine job as the lead. She’s charming and she’s undeniably fun to watch with Adam DeVine and Liam Hemsworth. Hemsworth runs away with the film, for me, though. For so long, he’s been in the shadow of his mighty brother Chris, and even though this film doesn’t change that in any way, Isn’t It Romantic shows us that perhaps Liam has learned a thing or two from watching his brother.

Though I’m not crazy about the newest Vacation and Ghostbusters films, Chris Hemsworth is laugh-out-loud hilarious in both of those films. Chris knows not to take himself too seriously, and, with Isn’t It Romantic, Liam confidently walks in his brother’s footsteps. Maybe comedy is where the most famous brother of Chris Hemsworth is best utilized.

Isn’t It Romantic is fun in its one extended musical sequence – “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” – and whenever Wilson is frustrated by the film cutting away when she tries to sleep with Liam Hemsworth. I wish there was more than that, though. I wish this film was as inventive with being inside of a film as The Final Girls was because Isn’t It Romantic is nowhere near as funny as it should be.

There are worse ways to spend an evening on Netflix than lying on the couch to watch Isn’t It Romantic with your significant other or the ice cream of your choosing, but Isn’t It Romantic is in no way, shape, or form the memorable genre spoof it wants to be. Though I appreciate the film’s message and some of its genre-awareness, as well as Liam Hemsworth’s performance, Isn’t It Romantic is a largely forgettable parody that follows the same stale formula that it’s trying to lampoon.

5 out of 10

– Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.

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