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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Isn't It Romantic (Blu-ray)
Isn't It Romantic (Blu-ray)
Other // PG-13 // May 21, 2019 // Region A
List Price: $22.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Oktay Ege Kozak | posted June 20, 2019 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

During our meta self-referential pop-culture days, it was only a matter of time that a rom-com trying the Edgar Wright formula of lovingly mocking genre tropes while openly applying them would come up. Since it's such a formulaic genre, of course there have been films in the past that skewered its cliches in brilliant ways. David Wain's underrated They Came Together comes to mind. But while that movie was a full-on absurdist parody, Isn't It Romantic tries a more layered approach that digs into why people might get out of the genre, and what that says about their self-esteem. It's a fairly complex issue to highlight in such a fluffy product, and the attempt falters especially during the dodgy second act, but the protagonist's clear character arc ties the narrative and the themes together in the end.

That protagonist would be Natalie (Rebel Wilson) who's conditioned by his mother that rom-coms are nothing but empty fantasies that cannot happen in real life. This, and Natalie's invisibility to the men around her, turns her into a bitter person who loves complaining nonstop about the many dumb cliches found in those films. Natalie's obviously meant to be a bit of a tragic figure, but the script and Wilson's performance doesn't let her off easily. It's also made clear that Natalie has far too high standards for her selection in men and can't even see the obvious romantic connection with her co-worker and BFF Josh (Adam Devine). So we get more of an ‘80s and ‘90s Bill Murray arc than a wholly innocent and naïve Hugh Grant archetype.

After the typical bonk in the head that means, in movie terminology, that she's about to be transferred to a magical dream world, Natalie finds herself stuck in the middle of a rom-com universe. Usually, when characters find themselves magically transplanted in a fictional universe, they're wholly in that world. But in this case, Natalie's life is still the same, it just comes across through the rose-colored prism of a rom-com. Ney York City is no longer a craphole, and perhaps the best running joke in the film, her solemn and distant gay neighbor (Brandon Scott Jones) is now a shameless stereotype of the "gay best friend" whose only reason for existing is to be fierce and support the protagonist.

The first act has a fun time making fun of rom-com cliches, but the second act hits a thematic wall as the parody elements are left behind in order to give way for a pretty standard rom-com script that involves Natalie and Josh dating characters who have no depth other than being hot (Liam Hemsworth and Priyanka Chopra), while not realizing, surprise surprise, that they're actually meant for each other. However, the third act saves the day with an unexpected twist about who Natalie should love in the first place, bringing the themes of why its audience love rom-coms yet why it might also be a good idea to tether oneself to real life expectations.

The Blu-ray:

Per the premise, the movie shows a stark contrast between the dirty, colorless and grimy real-life New York and switches immediately to a pastel colored and bright rom-com NYC. The 1080p transfer does a great job of capturing these two stark opposites with grace.

The Audio:

The dialogue is crisp and clear, but the lossless surround track really comes to life during the many bubbly musical sequences. Hey, it was obvious there would be singing since the movie sports two cast members from Pitch Perfect, but they fit well into the movie's tone.

Extras:

Deleted Scenes: Six minutes of excised material. Nothing really special here.

I Wanna Dance: A quick EPK about the making of the musical numbers.

Final Thoughts:

Isn't It Romantic certainly doesn't rewrite the rules of the genre and lags during the second act, but an overall engaging execution and natural charm from the leads elevates the material.

Oktay Ege Kozak is a film critic and screenwriter based in Portland, Oregon. He also writes for The Playlist, The Oregon Herald, and Beyazperde.com

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