Todd Strauss-Schulson’s new film Isn’t It Romantic clearly wants to try and be the Rom-Com equivalent of Scream or Deadpool, sending up and making jokes about the tropes of the genre, whilst still using the same tropes to tell their story.
The film stars Rebel Wilson as Nat, an architect with low self-esteem, who gets injured in a mugging and wakes up in an idealised Rom-Com movie esq world. Despite her general disdain for Rom-Coms, which she explains at great length before the injury giving you a road map for exactly how the film will go, she realises that she must fulfil a lot of the Rom-Com tropes in order to return to the real world.
If the fact that the film both follows and mocks the tropes of Rom-Coms will put you off then Isn’t It Romantic definitely won’t be the film for you. Yes it wants it both ways, but it mostly works perfectly well, having Wilson’s character complain about what is happening as she going through the experience. It does feels like a lot of these tropes come from older films, Pretty Woman and The Wedding Singer are explicitly mentioned, so it rather ignores the fact that more recent Rom-Coms like Crazy Rich Asians and The Big Sick feel as though they’ve left a number of these behind. Which already makes Isn’t It Romantic feel rather dated, as a number of those 80s and 90s films are.
I think though that the biggest problem with Isn’t It Romantic is that everything just feels fine. The performances from Rebel Wilson, Adam DeVine, and Liam Hemsworth are all solid. The jokes are a mixed bag, the occasional one lands, but plenty don’t. There’s nothing to really elevate the film. Because it is intentionally following the tropes there nothing really new or special story wise, and the comedy is too hit or miss to make up for that.
If you’re looking for something that is easy watching to just out on Isn’t It Romantic certainly isn’t a terrible option. It isn’t taxing and is familiar enough that it doesn’t demand your full attention. But with the quality of romantic comedies that we’ve had in the last couple of years it just doesn’t feel as though it can compete.