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‘Anyone But You’ is much ado about nothing

The romantic comedy genre is in a new era, an eager revival more or less. But perhaps the genre’s a little too eager when it comes to generating new, original content worthy of being remembered long after its release. That eagerness revival embodies itself in this holiday season’s release of “Anyone But You.” What is seemingly an obvious copy of William Shakespeare’s play “Much Ado About Nothing” results in a film that has much ado about nothing – at all. 

The film stars two incredibly attractive and well-known actors – “Euphoria” star Sydney Sweeney and “Top Gun: Maverick” star Glen Powell. They are cast in roles at fault of the typical “enemies-to-lovers” romance trope as well as the “fake dating” trope. 

The plot is set around the Australian wedding of Sweeney’s sister and a friend of Powell’s, bringing the two back together months after a not-so-cute meeting. But the joyous occasion is constantly disrupted by the pair’s unresolved frustrations with one another. What follows is them deciding to pretend to be into each other romantically to get their family and friends off their backs.

But what good does it do to try to make a joyous occasion about yourself? Especially when the clear option is to use necessary and effective communication that would instantaneously clean up the absurd mess. Instead, it makes for an even messier plot, riddled with headslap moments and almost every single rom-com cliché one could possibly think of. 

The male character is plot-driven by his deceased mother while the female character is a “lost lamb,” hiding her college dropout status from her parents. What results is a male character who secretly has empathy and a female character who is a consistent klutz and “screw-up” — neither trait is original nor has any real purpose for the film, except that it adds more egregious drama to the story. 

It’s quite unbearable to see yet another woman character lack self-agency, especially when there isn’t much of a happy ending for her own character development. She starts off a “mess” and continues to be a “mess” until the end of the film, but now she’s a “mess” who’s in love. This underlying theme goes to show that these backstories show no implication or impact, except in making a selfless, unlikable character.  

With blazing chemistry off-screen between the two, some of it happens to linger on-screen. Their chemistry off-screen was a helpful marketing tool nonetheless, but expectations shouldn’t be too high. At best, it comes and goes when it pleases. But it always heads right out the door when the moment is more focused on attempting awkward situational comedy, which feels like over half of the film. 

Cast as the dad of Sweeney’s character, former rom-com king Dermot Mulroney steals a scene or two with his hilarity. But an even better scene-stealer was actor and rapper GaTa, who played the brother of one of the brides and a friend of Powell’s character. His comedic timing provided a glimmer of hope in a plot drowning in the Sydney Harbour. 

The film’s marketing seemed to focus more on the lead actor’s undeniable chemistry, leaving out the fact that the film was based on the Shakespeare play or was influenced by the playwright at all. But the said influence feels more like a mystery to unravel while watching because its only ties come in the form of random Shakespeare quotes written in the sand or on a mural during scene transitions. Needless to say, this isn’t your modern Shakespeare-revival rom-com like “10 Things I Hate About You” and “She’s the Man.” 

Another feeble attempt of the film is a nostalgic tactic, constantly referencing a song from the early 2000s as the film’s little running gag – Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten.” Its inclusion is better than the million TikTok songs played in the film, even though the Bedingfield song is made to be the butt of a joke.  

Speaking of butts, there sure were a few of them shown throughout the film’s running. It’s another age-old comedic tactic the film tries to use in its attempt to be funny because it couldn’t actually make up its own humor that well. 

All in all, “Anyone But You” takes a stab at every rom-com film, book and trope out there. Although it makes the film 100% predictable, it also makes it seem like a homage to the rom-com genre in general. Despite its strong attempt to revive Shakespeare and the rom-com genre, you get a film that is better left “Unwritten.” 


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