On Feb. 13, this year’s major trope-ful Valentine’s Day romantic comedy was released, but “Isn’t It Romantic” satirizes genre conventions while still adhering to some in a way that will satisfy lovers of rom-coms.
The film follows Natalie (Rebel Wilson), an architect in New York who learned at a young age that girls “like her” don’t get happy endings. The writers set up Natalie’s practical, disillusioned personality by having her mock rom-coms while talking to her assistant, who loves these cheesy movies. The bit goes on for a little while as Natalie points out the unrealistic “gay best friend” trope, the genre’s annoying use of pop songs and the fact that getting the guy is the only thing that makes the woman in a rom-com happy.
When Natalie hits her head, however, she wakes up in a rom-com where things are just a little too perfect: New York City is covered in flowers, her clumsiness is suddenly adorable and a handsome man whom she just met notices her. Natalie doesn’t fall for all these tropes and instead seeks a way back to reality.
I enjoyed watching the realistic Natalie as she navigated the completely unrealistic world of the rom-com. Her doubts over the implication of many genre tropes (for example, that two hard-working female colleagues can only be enemies or that a makeover montage can solve all of a person’s problems) can be appreciated by any rational person, and her adherence to some sweet genre traditions (spoiler: Like falling for her best friend) will make anyone smile. Of course, the movie was funny, and I laughed at all of the ridiculous genre stereotypes juxtaposed against Natalie’s realistic outlook.
I thought that the casting in this movie was spot-on. Rebel Wilson was her usual funny, sarcastic self as Natalie, and Liam Hemsworth and Adam DeVine were also good in their roles of Blake and Josh respectively. Hemsworth’s portrayal of the handsome yet one-dimensional Australian love interest was fun to laugh at as Natalie criticized his perfection. Similarly, DeVine’s sympathetic portrayal of the overlooked best friend made viewers feel for Josh.
I enjoyed one of the movie’s major messages, which came to light during the big twist in Natalie’s rom-com life. Let me explain: To get back to reality, Natalie thinks that she must make a man fall in love with her. After discovering that making Blake fall in love with her won’t be enough, Natalie realizes that she must proclaim her true love for friend-zoned Josh, just as in any traditional romantic comedy.
As Natalie rushes in to stop his wedding to another woman, she begins to declare her love for Josh but actually declares her love for herself. She feels fine being herself and being independent, and so she just leaves the church. I liked how Natalie proclaimed her love for herself as she is and didn’t succumb to the genre trope of ending up with a man—at least in her rom-com world….
Although I liked Natalie’s declaration of self-love, I was torn over the ending of the movie, as Natalie ends up pursuing Josh (who has been in love with her the entire movie) back in reality. I wasn’t sure if I liked the film ending with the major cliché from romantic comedies, even though I was glad to see Natalie open up and acknowledge Josh’s advances.
While I found the ending somewhat irksome because it fell into genre tropes, I will say that Natalie did learn about the importance of being open and honest in relationships. As she tried to get together romantically with Josh in the rom-com world, Natalie realized that she should express her true feelings and be more observant of and receptive to his romantic advances. This realization helped her to take charge of her life and open up in the real world. It also balanced the major theme of “rom-coms are unrealistic and set unreasonable expectations” by reminding viewers of the importance of keeping an open mind and taking advantage of opportunities that come your way.
Overall, “Isn’t It Romantic” was funny and worth watching. Skeptics and lovers of rom-coms alike will enjoy how the movie pokes fun at genre conventions. Either way, the movie will get you to laugh at the romantic comedy genre, its lack of realism and Natalie’s struggle to escape almost every other woman’s rom-com fantasy.
Stephanie Santillo is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.