A Forgettable Affair in Rom-Com Territory – Deadline

In the realm of romantic comedies, certain tropes are so ingrained that they become almost expected, and Will Gluck‘s Anyone But You, co-written by Ilana Wolpert, comfortably nestles itself into familiar territory. The film, starring Sydney Sweeny and Glen Powell, with a supporting ensemble including Alexandra Shipp, GaTa, Hadley Robinson, Michelle Hurd, Dermot Mulroney, Darren Barnet, and Rachel Griffiths, is a classic case of somewhat funny, middle-of-the-road storytelling in the genre.

Future lawyer Bea (Sweeney) and Ben’s (Powell) first meeting in a coffee shop, complete with an awkward bathroom encounter, quickly escalates to a night at his place, and ending with her sneaky departure. Ben’s friend Pete (GaTa) teases him about falling in love after the first night, a notion Ben denies while criticizing Bea, unaware she’s come back to apologize and overheard his vitriol. Fate throws them together again at a club, where they’re introduced to Pete’s sister Claudia (Shipp), who is engaged to Bea’s sister Halle (Robinson).

Their initial exchanges are frosty, and to their dismay, they learn they’re both headed to Claudia and Halle’s wedding in Australia. In an attempt to maintain appearances, Bea and Ben try to mask their mutual interest, but their obvious tension threatens to disrupt the wedding festivities. Desperate to keep the peace, they agree to a truce. As they navigate through a series of mishaps, the question looms: will their antics lead to a bitter end or blossom into love?

Anyone But You epitomizes the typical rom-com formula: a young woman, an older man, and a predictable plot with little depth or profound messaging. It’s a film that doesn’t strive to break new ground but rather comfortably sits in the established norms of the genre. While this may satisfy fans looking for a light-hearted, no-surprises rom-com experience, those seeking innovative narrative exploration in their romantic comedies will likely find this movie a middling affair. 

Sweeney and Powell are distractingly attractive. However, the film heavily leans on its supporting cast to hold the narrative together. Without the charm and wit of actors like Dermont Mulroney and GaTa, Sweeny and Powell’s performances, though competent, would fail to carry the film’s comedic timing. The chemistry between the leads is present but lacks significant impact. Their interactions, while occasionally amusing, fail to ignite the kind of spark that defines memorable rom-com pairings. It’s a functional relationship at best.

Ben and Bea’s initial interactions are less than ideal, with Ben uttering unsavory remarks that would typically extinguish any potential romance. However, in a typical rom-com fashion, Bea eventually gets over all that to pursue something with Ben. This decision becomes a critical point in the film, questioning the dynamics of miscommunication and fragile egos, while only skimming the surface of gender relations. It’s a storyline that has been explored numerous times, leaving Anyone But You struggling to offer a fresh perspective on…well…anything!

For viewers like myself, who entered the theater with low expectations, Anyone But You had some surprising moments–even evoking knee-slapping laughter from time to time. The film is amusing and engaging enough to pass the time, yet it’s hindered by its length. Approaching the two-hour mark, the narrative begins to drag, padded with scenes that serve more as filler than substance, diluting the overall impact of the story.

Anyone But You is a film that’s enjoyable enough for a casual watch but ultimately forgettable in the grand scheme of the genre.

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