Here’s a movie that mocks the very thing that it is. What starts off as a satirical bit on romcoms, shooting darts at the leading ladies of the genre from the ‘90s, ultimately turns into that very kind of movie. That’s “Isn’t It Romantic” a film which casts Rebel Wilson as its lead, but fails to capture the wooly spirit of the talented 39-year-old Aussie comedian.
Natalie (Wilson) is an Aussie architect working in Manhattan, she hates rom-coms, allergic to all the clichés that come with the genre. It's not her fault, she was raised by her single mom (Jennifer Saunders), to disregard Hollywood’s fantasy of romance, especially anything involving Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock because, in her words, they are “not for girls like us.”
One can only imagine the type of pessimist Natalie has become as an adult, she’s, unsurprisingly, single, and looks down on her media company’s new client, a stud by the name of Blake (Liam Hemsworth). Co-worker Josh (Adam DeVine), seems to have a cutesy crush on her, but she doesn’t notice, blinded by the harsher realities of work and life. Ditto her allegiance and trust to Whitney (scene-stealer Betty Gilpin), a work assistant that pushes her to go out and make herself “be heard” to all the NYC bachelors of this world.
However, once Natalie smashes into a pole at the train station, a newly resurgent outlook suddenly appears in her head. This newly concussed gal can feel the love everywhere and anywhere she goes in the big apple. She’s stuck in a fantasy world of rom-com hell *Gulp*.
Aided by the pastel brights shot by Cinematographer Simon Duggan, director Todd Strauss-Schulson (“The Final Girls”) crafts a pseudo dimension of fluff for Natalie to soak up into and freak out about. Everything from her apartment to her office is transformed into a kind of nouveau-chic style of utter self-indulgence. Cue in Blake, again, who turns out to be the romantic lead in Nat’s story.
This gimmick has been done to death in the past, most recently with last year’s underwhelming Amy Schumer vehicle “I Feel Pretty,” but Strauss-Schulson doesn’t present a good enough reason to warrant adapting Erin Cardillo, Dana Fox and Katie Silberman’s conventional screenplay, which, intriguingly, shares more than a few similar scenes to ‘Pretty.’
Once “Isn’t It Romantic “ adds on extra sugar to the top of its bland birthday cake, a danceathon ending celebrating the rom-com aesthetic with Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” the film goes into cliche overdrive and turns into the thing Natalie seemed to despise most at the start of the film. It’s a betrayal of the satirical potential that could have been.