What a nice movie! “Nice” as in if this movie were a person and you met that person at a party, you would say “what a nice person”. It’s just good hearted and kind and a little funny and eager to make friends.
What really jumped out at me about this rom-com is the way the “fantasy” has shifted for what people in a rom-com do, hope for, believe in, etc. There’s no talk about “commitment issues”, there’s no competition for the big promotion in the office, there’s no blaming your parents for destroying your lives and making you unable to love. We had years and years of “I think career can make me happy because my parents were divorced” and “I am a man child afraid of commitment because I see love as a competition” plotlines. Still do I guess on the annual Christmas Rom-Com Movies festivals. But I think it is shifting, and this movie is a big sign of that shift. Especially considering the same director made this movie and “Failure to Launch”, the exact opposite film! He must be seeing the signs of the times too.
The young people in this movie struggle with their parents, but struggle with love and understanding and trying to make and keep everyone happy. Their careers are important, but in a “what am I contributing to the world?” way, not in a “how successful can I be?” OR “how happy can I be?” sort of way. And their relationship progresses like two people getting to know each other and figuring out what they want, not like two people constantly lying and having wacky misunderstandings because they are STUPID.
Actually, I think there aren’t any misunderstandings at all in this plot? Secrets, yes, but no actual lies, and no misinterpretations. It’s just secrets revealed and people figuring out how they feel about it and why. There’s a central kooky scheme that sets the plot off (pretend romance so you have dates to weddings), but otherwise it’s just kind of normal.
That’s both my favorite part of the movie, and what leads to the biggest flaw. The film follows the standard structure of a 90 minute rom-com, as predictable and firm as the rules for a sonnet. Our hero and heroine are introduced with their separate families, hopes, dream, problems, etc. And then they meet and don’t hit it off to start. But Wacky Circumstances throw them together and they become friends and then fall in love. Which means the final movement is about to start, something bad is going to break them up again, they will go through angst, and then they will give Big Speeches and reunite as they realize they truly love each other. Only thing is, everyone in this movie is so dang nice that it’s really hard to come up with a reason our central couple has to break up. So the last half hour of the film is honestly kind of a drag. Just feels like marking time until all these nice people go back to being nice. Know that going in, the first hour is super pleasant and easy, the last half hour you can go get some snacks and take a break, whatever.
Oh, but skip NOTHING related to the sister relationship! The central couple have decent chemistry, but honestly the sister relationship is the heart of the film. That’s what makes me most excited to see what all these people do next, the screenwriter Shiwani Srivastava, the producing team (Ron Howard, woot! Such a nice man, always), and the sister actress Arianna Afsar. By the way, I think I saw Arianna in the Chicago Hamilton production? Anyway, she was really great.