I’m never quite sure what to make of Rebel Wilson, the lead actress in the romantic comedy which is ironically not trying to be a romantic comedy Isn’t It Romantic? I sort of liked her in the Pitch Perfect films but felt like she was playing a type rather than an indepth character and this could be said of this film too really but, for some reason, I enjoyed her performance in this much much more.
I don’t watch a lot of romantic comedies but in these times of restriction and political unsettlement, sometimes you just have to immerse yourself in something mindless that you know is going to make you laugh; it may even make you cry but it will be tears of joy at the bloody marvellousness of the world that these lovely characters inhabit and how their lives are now exactly where they want them to be but never expected to get there.
Glorious mindless mush.
And Isn’t It Romantic? delivers on this, a fresh spin on the clichéd genre of the romantic comedy and one just suited to Rebel Wilson who plays the character of Natalie perfectly.
Natalie is an architect in a New York firm who is frequently overlooked by her work colleagues, who treat her as a dogsbody, getting her to take their trash to the bin or make calls for them when that is really their job. For some reason, she allows this to happen.
Having been told at a young age that the romantic world is not open to plumpish, averagely attractive girls like herself by her cynical and jaded mother, Natalie has low self-esteem. Her assistant at work, Whitney indulges in romantic comedies as a solace for a dull life and Natalie derides these in the same way that her mother did to her.
Natalie has a great friend in the office called Josh, played by Adam Devine who is like the new Jack Black. He is her own personal cheer squad as well as someone who makes her laugh and quite obviously likes her but she is oblivious.
As this is a romantic comedy that is not a romantic comedy, something must be done to combat this cynicism and show Natalie that love is out there waiting for her – she just has to find it. It’s very hard not to use clichés, you know.
When Natalie gets knocked out on the subway and wakes up in hospital to the unusual attentions of the good looking nurse, she is suspicious of her surroundings which, like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, appear to her in glorious technicolour. Something is off and continues to be different when she leaves, New York suddenly becoming less grey and better maintained, especially in her neighbourhood.
When she is approached by the billionaire client played by Liam Hemsworth, who she was too scared to impress with her ideas at her firm previously because of her low self-esteem but now for whom she has become a magnet, Natalie realises that she has been transported into what she has perceived as her worst nightmare – she is in a romantic comedy as the lead.
Cue curiosity driven shenanigans as Natalie attempts to come to terms with this alternative reality where all of the people from her world are there but all are slightly different in this one, a little exaggerated and a little brighter, a world where anyone could burst into song at any minute.
For anyone else, this may be a treat but for Natalie, it is anything but. She is desperate to get out of this sickly sweet world and back to her dreary existence, finding all the attention uncomfortable and contrived. She rails against it at every opportunity and it is great fun to watch her as she struggles in a world where instead of being overlooked, she is now the main focus.
There is just one problem and that is that Josh has also become a magnet and when he meets Isabella, played by Priyanka Chopra and saves her life, Natalie is faced with the prospect of losing him.
You can probably see where this is going. Natalie has to fight for Josh, reject the handsome billionaire and find true love with someone her equal which is what you would expect from a romantic comedy and would be very dissatisfied if you didn’t get it. But there is more to this film than meets the eye as whilst it dresses itself up as a parody of romantic comedy and mercilessly pokes fun at the genre, it is a romantic comedy.
Having said that though and without wanting to confuse things, it isn’t as well – it is a film about empowerment and being comfortable in your own skin and believing in yourself and I liked that about it, it being an unusual twist. Usually, romantic comedies end with the sense that the girl can only be fulfilled once she has the right guy but this film was not about being whisked off into the sunset by Prince Charming.
If you want to watch something funny, lighthearted but with a semi-serious underlying message, then give Isn’t It Romantic? a go.