The Movie Guru: Rebel Wilson perfect in funny, sweet ‘Isn’t It Romantic’
Isn’t It Romantic
Rated: PG-13 for language, some sexual material and a brief drug reference.
Screenplay by: Erin Cardillo, Dana Fox and Katie Silberman, story by Erin Cardillo.
Directed by: Todd Strauss-Schulson.
Starring: Rebel Wilson, Liam Hemsworth, Adam Devine, Priyanka Chopra, Betty Gilpin, Brandon Scott Jones and more.
Grade: Three and a half stars.
“Isn’t It Romantic” is a love letter to a specific type of rom-com fan.
The movie was designed for all of us out there who grew up watching romance,s but always knew we’d never be pretty enough to qualify as the lead. We know exactly how ridiculous the genre is, happily skewering holes in each and every one of its many cliches. At the same time, we keep watching with the wistful wish that we’ll get a great love story of our own.
If you’re anywhere in that category, “Isn’t It Romantic” is an absolutely delightful film that satisfies at every turn. It’s a hilarious send-up of genre that will have you rolling in the aisles, threaded through with a really sweet, low-key love story. Even better, all of that is built on the absolutely vital message that the most important person to fall in love with is yourself.
Wilson Grows Up
The movie focuses on Rebel Wilson’s Natalie, an architect who works at a shabby little firm designing parking garages. She hates the romantic comedies she grew up watching, a fact that comes back to bite her when she hits her head and wakes up in a rom-com dream land. In order to escape the constant onslaught of cliches and get back to her real life, she has to figure out what love story she’s supposed to be starring in.
The script is a treasure, parodying the genre with a depth and attention to detail that makes it clear the writers have seen more than a few romances. Almost the entire movie is chock full of belly laughs, and both Rebel Wilson and director Todd Strauss-Schulson display an excellent sense of comic timing. One of my favorite bits is an in-universe joke about the movie’s PG-13 rating — specifically focusing the amount of swear words and sex that are and aren’t allowed with that rating.
But if you’re looking for biting satire, this isn’t the film for you. “Isn’t It Romantic” is a love story at its heart, though a lot of that love isn’t the kind of thing romances usually focus on. The movie devotes some time to female friendship in the workplace, and shows Natalie actually valuing and enjoying her own career. Most importantly, it shows the impact that our self-esteem can have on every aspect of our lives. In the end, our greatest love story is with ourselves.
Wilson is a perfect fit for the lead role, saucy and hilarious but also perfectly capable of handling the movie’s more emotional moments. Adam Devine proves he can go serious as well, and I hope we get to see more of this side of him in future roles. The duo, who were something of a comedy-relief couple in the “Pitch Perfect” movies, are sweet, genuine and quietly charming here.
If you don’t like romances, then “Isn’t It Romantic” probably won’t change your mind. But if your feelings are more complicated than that, it may be the movie you never knew you always wanted.
Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Denver Film Critics Society. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.