There’s a gently subversive streak to Netflix’s latest ‘original’ offering “Isn’t It Romantic” as it sets out to undermine the worn-out romcom tropes while simultaneously adhering to the framework of the genre in this bright and breezy comedy that reunites Rebel Wilson and Adam Devine after “Pitch Perfect 3” cruelly tore them apart.
Having had her romantic idealism crushed by her mother as a child, Natalie (Rebel Wilson) is a cynical, downtrodden New York architect, treated as a pushover by her colleagues and dismissed as a coffee girl by her firm’s new billionaire client Blake (Liam Hemsworth). Oblivious to her co-worker Josh (Adam Devine)’s affection for her, she spends her day trying to get her assistant and best friend Whitney (Betty Gilpin) to stop wasting her time watching sappy movies. But when Natalie is mugged on the subway and is knocked unconscious, she awakes to find herself in a romanticised, Instagram-filtered fairytale of New York, and love is in the air.
The perfect vehicle for Rebel Wilson’s talents, “Isn’t It Romantic” gives her a broad canvass on which to practice her trademark blend of shameless honesty, sharp-tongued wit and physical comedy. Alongside her, Devine gives a more restrained performance than usual which works so much better than his usual trying-slightly-too-hard schtick and really lets the easy, natural chemistry between him and Wilson do all the heavy lifting in this lightweight romance.
Both Hemsworth and Priyanka Chopra have a tremendous time sending up the RomCom stereotypes, with Hemsworth getting to play around with the Richard Gere in “Pretty Woman” billionaire dreamboat character and explore what probably happens after the happy ever after while Chopra’s ‘yoga ambassador’/ occasional lingerie model is the epitome of the superficial vacuous super-rich entitlement, the perfect foil for Natalie’s would-be leading lady.
There’s plenty of self-aware meta-humour to wring from the premise and the film never misses a chance to poke affectionate fun at its subject matter while still telling an appealing story of its own. It plays fast and loose with physics and logic, allowing characters to pop up in improbable locations whenever they’re needed and, of course, it packs in a musical number or two to great effect.
Good, clean, frothy fun, “Isn’t It Romantic” makes the most of its talented cast and its fun premise. It’s by no means groundbreaking but it’s definitely worth a cosy night in on the sofa with a bowl of popcorn and a glass or two of wine.