From start to finish, “Isn’t It Romantic,” directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson, is full of the average rom-com tropes that make every movie in the genre seem the same.
Featuring “Pitch Perfect” alums Rebel Wilson (Natalie) and Adam DeVine (Josh), and Priyanka Chopra (Isabelle) and Liam Hemsworth (Blake), it’s a star-studded cast that tries for comedy and falls flat.
The film begins with a scene from Natalie’s past: She’s watching “Pretty Woman” and her mother is critiquing it – telling a young Natalie that there are no happy endings for women like them. It’s a nod to how Hollywood sees beauty in conventional, thin women, and the messages it sends to these young women. Fast forward 25 years and it’s a mantra that Natalie lives by.
There are some laughs that come from Natalie’s critiques of why rom-coms suck, and then after a mugging where she runs into a pole and hits her head, Natalie is transported to a world where her life is a PG-13 romantic comedy.
The tropes begin shortly after.
New York City is transformed from its regular appearance to a city that is a little too clean to trust, with flowers located everywhere, even at subway stops.
Josh is the character who off the bat the audience can tell is the best-friend/coworker/unrealized true love interest, while Blake is the standoffish, rude guy who gets the glamorizing treatment in the PG-13 universe as the one Natalie thinks she’s supposed to be with.
Isabella is the rival love interest for Josh, and she and Natalie compete for his affections through a musical number choreographed to “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” by Whitney Houston.
One of Natalie’s earlier critiques manifests and her best friend in the regular universe, Whitney, turns into her arch-rival in the PG-13 one.
Not to forget is the gay best friend/sidekick, Donny (Brandon Scott Jones), who Natalie argues before she gets a transported, is one-dimensional and doesn’t serve any other purpose than to be comedic relief. The movie makes fun of all these tropes while embracing them to get to the finish line.
A big lesson that the movie pushes throughout its hour and a half runtime is the idea of loving yourself being more important than finding a happy ending in someone else. It was refreshing to see that during the climax of the movie, Natalie has a realization about who she really should be focusing her love and acceptance towards.
She’s transported back to her own world after, and applies all that she’s learned from the PG-13 universe to the life she lives. By the film’s end, it’s satisfying to see Natalie stand up for herself by taking control at her job and in her love life.
It’s an enjoyable movie for a lazy afternoon and entertaining enough to keep you from pulling out your phone in the middle of it. But if you’re going to watch it, it’s best if you wait for it to come onto streaming platforms or iTunes.