ISN’T IT ROMANTIC review by Ronnie Malik – Rebel Wilson stars in a parody of romantic comedies

ISN’T IT ROMANTIC review by Ronnie Malik – Rebel Wilson stars in a parody of romantic comedies

Director: Todd Strauss-Schulson

Cast: Rebel Wilson, Liam Hemsworth, Adam Devine, Priyanka Chopra, Betty Gilpin, Brandon Scott Jones, Jennifer Saunders, Alex Kis

Rating: B+

Finding the right formula to create a memorable romantic comedy is not an easy task for many filmmakers. Even with all of the best of intentions, a rom-com film can miss its mark and come off as unforgettable and silly. Just in time for this year’s Valentine’s holiday, director Todd Strauss-Schulson is providing fans of romantic comedies a February 14th gift in the form of his film, ISN’T IT ROMANTIC. Giving gritty New York City a makeover and turning it into a place full of cupcakes, flowers, and rainbows creates the backdrop for a rather fun romp through romance land.

Natalie (Rebel Wilson) is an up and coming architect living a rather drab life in the Big Apple. Her apartment is always a mess, her poodle is desperately in need of grooming, and she always appears disheveled and is constantly mistaken for the coffee girl, as well as never being taken seriously.  Natalie is very skeptical and doesn’t believe that true love exists for a girl like her.  Her best friends at work are Josh (Adam Devine) and Whitney (Betty Gilpin). Both of Natalie’s colleagues try their best to change her outlook and see the beauty in life and true love. It is clear that Natalie is non-believer especially when she goes through great lengths to tell Whitney how silly and unrealistic most romantic movies are by naming every cliché in the book from the handsome hero to the standard gay friend and the predictable dance numbers.

Things take an interesting turn when a subway mugging goes wrong and Natalie gets bonked on the head, lands in a coma, and then awakens to a New York she doesn’t recognize. Everyone politely says thank you, the streets are filled with cheer and good will, and New York City smells heavenly. It is not long before Natalie realizes she has woken up in a dream world of a romantic comedy – and that just happens to be her worst nightmare. To her surprise the handsome unattainable Blake (Liam Hemsworth) is ready to sweep her off her feet, Whitney has turned into her rival, Josh is a potential love interest, and her gay neighbor Donny (Brandon Scott James) is now her new best friend. She has a dream apartment and a shoe closet to die for and even her little dog looks like a puppy fashionista.  Believing that to break the curse of being stuck in fantasy land is to find true love, Natalie sets out on a mission to get someone in her nightmare to say to her “I love you.”

Audiences will recognize plenty of spoofs from memorable hits like PRETTY WOMAN and MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING.  From slow motion running, to breaking up a wedding, to the karaoke scene, to a big dance production, ISN’T IT ROMANTIC pulls out plenty of punches making fun of all the typical clichés seen in rom-com films which proves to be pretty entertaining.  The design team for this production created a visually pleasing movie that almost reminds us of the stroll Dorothy took in the film THE WIZARD OF OZ after she gets hit on the head in the 1939 classic. It is a pleasant surprise to see just how much detail is put into the set designs of this production making both versions of New York City very eye catching.

This endeavor is perfectly cast with Rebel Wilson in the lead role giving us a very relatable and likable young lady that moviegoers are sure to remember.  Wilson is extremely delightful as the reluctant participant in an unwanted dream. She delivers her one-liners with zing and her facial expressions and reactions to the unexpected are priceless. Betty Gilpin plays a gal pal in the beginning of the film but in the alternate realty she is Natalie’s nemesis. Gilpin is very fun to watch as she flip-flops between the two personalities. Adam Devine is also very likable and sweet as the silent love interest waiting in the wings for a girl that thinks she is not worthy of affection. Playing a flamboyant and funny advisor to Wilson’s character is Brandon Scott-Jones who seems to be having a blast as Natalie’s wise sidekick. The handsome Liam Hemsworth proves he is not afraid of playing his character with a heavy dose of ridiculousness, and provides a good dose of humor. Priyanka Chopra perfectly adds just the right amount of spice playing the stereotypical mean girl that can’t accept losing to someone she perceives as inferior. All in all the actors in this film do a great job bringing to life their eccentric characters.

The formula for ISN’T IT ROMANTIC equals a successful attempt in giving moviegoers some lighthearted fun at the box office. Cheesy at times, this charming romantic comedy is totally worth the watch and will provide for plenty of giggles and smiles as it delivers its message about self-love.

ISN’T IT ROMANTIC opens February 15, 2019

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