ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? is a romantic comedy that is supposed to be a satire of romanic comedies. High aspirations! The film plunges its protagonist, Natalie (Rebel Wilson) an Australian architect living in New York City into an alternative universe of the romantic comedy. After being mugged and bumping her head, Natalie now lives, while being aware, of this alternative PG-13 Universe with the running joke that the ‘f’ word cannot possibly be uttered. She must escape every cliche in order to find love and live happily ever after.
Nat finds the most handsome client at the office (Liam Hemsworth) speaking Australian and falling in love with her. Hemsworth is Australian, so for him speaking like an Aussie is no problem. But Natalie realizes that she should be with her best friend (Adam Levine) who she had previously in her past life totally ignored. Natalie decides to go all out to get him back.
Rebel Wilson is the slightly plump Aussie comedian that has been popping up in supporting roles in films of recent years. She is mostly annoying than funny. Wilson is at least tolerable in this film where she is given the main lead, turning annoying into over-endearing. It is too obvious that she is the pitiful girl that the audience should pity and root for and in the end go head-on cheering for.
Strauss-Schulson’s film is however, not without its pleasures. The film’s best segment tis a romantic musical number set in a Karaoke bar where Natalie shows up to the couple’s party with the full intent of stealing the groom. They break up into an over-the-top kitsch that is unexpected and refreshing, sort of like when Rupert Everett broke out into the lip-synching song: in MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING. A similar musical number at the film’s end however loses its punch, not being able to beat the Karaoke one.
ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? is described in the ads a a satirical fantasy film about romantic comedies. A film is a satire if it tears its subject in this case the romantic comedy apart, disbelieving everything about it being true. I generally do not consider romantic comedies as my favourite genre and I would love to see the concept of romantic comedies totally torn apart. No such luck – ISN’T IT ROMANTIC, still falls into all the pratfalls of a rom-com. It has a romantic happy ending, is fully predictable, the girl gets the guy she wants at the end and worst of all is filled with one cliche after another including the girl’s best friend being gay, the supportive girl’s best friend at work and a cutie pet at home. Other examples: Natalie is passed over at work, is a decent human being and not a beauty and worst of all a bump on her head that shifts her romantic universe (the last film with this similar premise was WHAT MEN WANT where a bump on the head gives the female protagonist the ability to hear men’s thoughts). So there is nothing truly innovative about ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? It has a premise that the script does not really know what to do with. Isn’t it sad?
The film opens Wednesday in time for Valentine’s Day.