Isn’t It Romantic? – A Romantic Comedy Satire

(L-r) PRIYANKA CHOPRA as Isabella and REBEL WILSON as Natalie in New Line Cinema's comedy "ISN'T IT ROMANTIC," a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Isn’t It Romantic? makes sure to hit all the romantic comedy cliches in an entertaining way complete with not one but two song-and-dance numbers.

Being trapped in a romantic comedy is sure to be anybody’s worst fear.  You know that the person you fall in love with is always going to be your best friend.  It’s never going to be the deliciously attractive hunk of guy.  I wrote down early on in my notes who I thought that Natalie (Rebel Wilson) would end up with when the film came to an end.  Because this is a film that hits every single required rom-com beat, I was 100% on the money.

Natalie works for Langley and Byron Architects.  She’s the invisible woman who people think is supposed to call in a repair or get their coffee.  Nope.  She’s actually an architect but they wouldn’t know this since they don’t bother to learn.  Ever since her mother (Jennifer Saunders) told her that “girls like us don’t get married,” Natalie has never been one to believe in love.  Nor do they make romantic comedies about people like them because “they’d have to sprinkle prozac on the popcorn so people don’t kill themselves.”

Even for a film that’s seeking to subvert the genre, it has to make sure to stand out from the many films that came before.  A conversation between Natalie and her assistant, Whitney (Future ’38‘s Betty Gilpin) discusses all the rom-com cliches.  They don’t miss a single one of them.  Whitney watches all the rom-coms and has The Wedding Singer playing on computer while name-dropping Sweet Home Alabama, 13 Going on 30, and then some.  In Whitney’s own words, the movie ends with the girl getting the guy.  It’s never quite the same in real life.

The two of them–in conversation–go through every single rom-com cliche:

  • Waking up pretty with no makeup
  • montage of putting on clothing
  • being clumsy while walking
  • two women that serve as mortal enemies
  • the gay best friend
  • voice-over
  • slow-motion running sequence to get the guy back
  • friend-zoning the guy that you’re supposed to fall in love with

Suddenly, Natalie finds herself getting mugged in the subway.  The next thing she knows, she’s starring in her own PG-13 romantic comedy where Blake (Liam Hemsworth) is the man of her dreams.  Or so we think.  Everybody notices her no matter where she goes.  Next door neighbor Donny (Brandon Scott Jones) has become her gay best friend and arguably sets back gay rights by a century.  If there’s anyone who could think that Natalie is making any sense, it would be co-worker Josh (Adam Devine) but he’s been blinded by the swimsuit model on the billboard.  Even when she thinks that it may have been him all along, he’s with yoga ambassador Isabella (Priyanka Chopra), if that’s even a real job.

It helps that both Wilson and Devine have chemistry together from their days co-starring together in the Pitch Perfect films.  Moreover, Liam Hemsworth shows us a funny side that he don’t normally see from him!  Who could have ever predicted that he could be just as funny as older brother Chris?

The whole romantic comedy satire has been done before in David Wain’s They Came Together starring Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler.  This is a similar film in many ways.  Granted, they’re targeting a younger audience but it doesn’t change the fact.   I could compare and contrast the two films all day long but both of them make sure to hit all the required rom-com beats.  While They Came Together features a musical interlude, Isn’t It Romantic? features two song and dance numbers: “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” and “Express Yourself.”  Both are surprisingly fun to watch.

Similarly, John Debney’s score is essentially a love letter to romantic comedies.  We’ve got two scores going here: Natalie’s real life and the rom-com she’s trapped in.  Again, they hit all the right beats!

Whether you love or hate romantic comedies, you’ll find something in Isn’t It Romantic? to be entertaining.

DIRECTOR:  Todd Strauss-Schulson
SCREENWRITERS:  Erin Cardillo and Dana Fox & Katie Silberman
CAST:  Rebel Wilson, Liam Hemsworth, Adam Devine, Betty Gilpin, Brandon Scott Jones, Jennifer Saunders, and Priyanka Chopra

New Line Cinema opens Isn’t It Romantic? in theaters on February 13, 2018. Grade: 4/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.