by Rob DiCristino
Romantic comedies often get a bum rap in “serious” circles, but they’re actually one of our most enduring cinematic traditions. The best of the bunch are like musicals: They’re rhythmic and colorful, giving us a heightened fantasy world of white-collar jobs and late afternoon brunches, a world in which anything — even true love between a shaggy underachiever and an uptight flibbertigibbet — is possible. They might be the genre of film that loves us the most, that most wants us to embrace their tropes and cliches: We usually meet our leads in some relatable state of transition — the day their relationship ends or that they realize (usually with the help of a quirky best friend) that their careers are so overwhelming that they need to Make a Change. A chance encounter kicks off the plot, throwing us head-first into whatever whimsical hijinks and over-the-top fairy tale gestures the filmmakers have in store. At their core, great romantic comedies are behavioral exercises. They strip us of cynicism and make us believe in charm, passion, and destiny.
Jenny Slate and Charlie Day make for a great pair of unlikely rom-com leads, as both of them have long-since cultivated a reputation for offbeat humor. They’re also prime examples of the classic Cute Hollywood Nerd — objectively attractive people whose hotness is tempered because they’re so often asked to share the frame with supermodels. The early scenes of them getting to know each other and building their rapport are by far the film’s best, and it’s a real shame that plot mechanics force them to pair off with their blander exes. Movies need things to happen in them, though, so we follow Emma on a mission of seduction that includes a performance of “Suddenly, Seymour,” a botched three-way with Logan and Anne, and an unexpected friendship with a 7th grade delinquent named Trevor (Luke David Blumm). Peter, on the other hand, goes clubbing with Noah and ends up fleeing an under-age pool party (crashed by Pete Davidson, no less), accidentally inspiring his new friend to propose to Ginny and squashing any and all hope Emma had of reconciliation.They Came Together comes to mind). At the very least, veteran TV writers Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker could have crafted a screenplay that gave these two very charming people more opportunities to be charming with each other and fewer scenes of them moping over a human sleeve of saltines like Scott Eastwood.