Isn’t it Romantic, releasing on Netflix on February 28, presents itself as the enfant terrible of the genre.
(From left) Priyanka Chopra, Adam DeVine and Rebel Wilson in Isn’t it Romantic.
Last year, two of the most-watched films on Netflix were The Kissing Booth and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, rom-coms, with all the predictable tropes, catering to the 14-25 demographic. Isn’t it Romantic, releasing on Netflix on February 28, presents itself as the enfant terrible of the genre. In its appearance it has more in common with another Netflix original, I Feel Pretty, about a self-conscious heroine with body image issues, who, after suffering a head injury, realises that life is not the same anymore.
Natalie (Rebel Wilson, best known for the Pitch Perfect films) is an architect who has grown up loathing rom-coms. Her long tirade against them includes
So, to Natalie’s annoyance, after getting mugged in a subway and, yes, suffering a head injury, she wakes up to discover that her life is playing out like a romantic comedy. Everything’s pastel, pink and pretty. A pop song runs in the background, a brawny, rich businessman (Liam Hemsworth), who initially ignored her, now finds her “beguiling”. Plus, she seems to be in a love triangle involving a sexy yoga ambassador (Priyanka Chopra) and nerdy friend-colleague (Adam DeVine). If you have seen films like My Best Friend’s Wedding, Pretty Woman and 13 Going on 30, you know where Isn’t it Romantic is headed. The film sticks to the genre’s most essential trope: the need for self-realisation.
Wilson is the star of the show as the disdainful woman who cannot stand being trapped in a rom-com. Her Natalie gives a speech in which she uses “parking lot” as a metaphor to describe herself-one of the many oddities of a film which, as it shuns all the contrivances and charms of a rom-com, fails to be an ingenious rom-com itself.
Hemsworth is neither charming nor funny and has little to do other than look dapper in a suit (not the toughest job for him), while DeVine ends up being a lesser Paul Rudd. Chopra does a namaste in her first scene and is a jealous bae by the third. “I love ordinary,” she says in her character’s introduction. Ordinary is also an apt descriptor for Isn’t it Romantic.