Wilson plays a chick named Natalie, last name never mind. She’s now in real life 38 but looks a lot younger, making me calling her a chick kind of weird. Anyway, my inappropriate crack notwithstanding, one day 25 years ago she was sitting around watching Julia Roberts on Pretty Woman, and her cynical so probably heartbroken mother comes up and scoffs at the ordeal, saying no one’s going to stare lovingly into the eyes of their folk. That’s an accurate description of how Nat’s life has been so far. She’d rather spend her time surviving a job where she’s completely underutilized and trying to ignore the silly crusades of her long-time friend Josh (Adam DeVine.) But one day on her way home, an accident during a stick-up she’s fooled into causes her to awaken in a hospital room with posh dressers, flowers, and a hottie-mottie of a doctor. Before she knows it, a dude from her business (Liam Hemsworth), who now has an Australian accent like hers, brings her to a home that’s completely transformed. It is so completely different it doesn’t take her long to realize she’s stepped into a parallel universe; a universe based around the one thing she hates more than rom-coms: a PG-13-rated rom-com.
Even before the big transition, as Natalie gives wink after wink of why rom-coms are unrealistic and snobby disguised as cheery, it was hard not to grin. And though it was meant for comedy, I think tweens and romance lovers will appreciate these messages, of how sometimes movies are just fiction, and you can’t always compare a dance-along to your own love story.
A newcomer named Brandon Scott Jones plays Natalie’s neighbour Donny, who in this universe sounds and postulates like an offensive stereotype of a gay character. He’s basically “setting gay rights back a hundred years (I hollered out loud at that)”. Jones certainly doesn’t seem to care what he has to do, everything he says trying and failing to be flirty so hard it’s effective. I guess that’s what spoofs are all about.
The best part of this movie, by far, is the deliberate horns silencing Natalie’s swear words. This spoofs rom-coms even more for some sly reasons. Rom-coms take place in real settings, real cities. And people swear about stuff, especially in dark times. PG-13 romance movies can be fine but you’d need to have clean yet convincing dialogue to keep it fresh, whereas R-rated movies don’t have to worry about slowing down and stumbling. But the real reason I loved this was how funny Wilson reacts to these fake-out instances. I laughed out loud every single time. If it wasn’t for the branding of this as a romance spoof, I bet Wilson could for the years to come add this role alongside the breakout performance of Fat Amy to her signature list.
A few things end up a bit sour. Some of the actual romance goes by very fast, and I didn’t get the impression it was spoofing that. Pace is very important when telling a story, and while I can certainly say the movie ends before it can bore the more cynical moviegoers, I didn’t feel enough time and effort was made to have a relationship that moviegoers would memorably treasure. The movie’s only 84 minutes, but the shortness makes it so much more digestible than Pitch Perfect 2 or How to be Single. Also, back to the fault side, Natalie’s assistant and good friend Whitney, played by Betty Gilpin, turns into her worst enemy, and the acting is believable enough, but I felt it was also overdone and there was no explanation as to why this was so; some would argue it’s because everything’s the opposite in this world, so best friend becomes best foe. But Josh more or less stays the same, so…And Donny may be more gay but was in the first place, so…
Still, even if I can name a few things to lower my grade, this is a similar situation I had to Aliens in the Attic, a movie having some story faults very easy to notice but so smart in the slapstick, hilarity, premise utilization and all-around fun feeling that disliking it would be heinous. Isn’t it Romantic? Yes, but it’s more funny, which is about five times tastier.