Glen Powell, Sydney Sweeney Coast By

The Pitch: It’s your classic love story: chiseled-jaw stockbroker Ben (Glen Powell) meet-cutes flibbertigibbet law student Bea (Sydney Sweeney) in a coffee shop one day, leading to a beautiful day of casual walks through the park, sizzling conversation (and grilled cheese sandwiches), and a cozy night falling asleep just talking, you guys. But the morning leads to a couple of only-in-the-movies miscommunications, leading to animosity and a mutual decision to never see each other again.

Cut to six months later, and they’re drawn back in each other’s orbit: Bea’s sister (Hadley Robinson) is getting married to Ben’s close friend (Alexandra Shipp), and the pair invite the wedding party to a gorgeous destination wedding in Sydney, Australia. Thrust together by circumstance, the bickering pair threaten to derail the whole weekend — until they decide to just fake being in love to get their overbearing friends and family off their backs till the ceremony ends.

A Merry War Betwixt Them: The big-budget theatrical romantic comedy is, arguably, a lost art — now mostly the purview of Netflix originals, often populated by teens and early twentysomethings, it’s been a good long time since we’ve gotten an honest-to-goodness adult romcom. (Sure, we had Ticket to Paradise last year, with which this film carries more than a few parallels, but pickings remain slim.) Thus, here we are with Anyone But You, a gossamer-thin but genial entry in the genre, one that gestures towards a return of that vaunted time when you could sit back and watch two hot people fall in love amidst a beautiful locale.

The source material for Ilana Wolpert’s script, as the character names and general premise may imply, is William Shakespeare’s classic comedy Much Ado About Nothing. Co-writer and director Will Gluck makes zero bones about this: from the beginning, his camera lingers several times on graffiti or building signs that are just quotes from that play, or even the title itself. It’s the kind of romantic tension that’s fueled every great rom-com since When Harry Met Sally…, glitzed up for the Instagram generation: can two hot people whom audiences would clearly like to see smooch get over their manufactured animosity in two hours or less?

So much of the film’s charm leans on its stars, as physiologically perfect near-movie star material as the 2020s can produce. Powell and Sweeney are chiseled, airbrushed specimens we’re meant to ogle, as each new setpiece finds new excuses to put them in neckline-plunging dresses or, in Powell’s case, various stages of actual undress. Individually, they’re charming, Powell especially: His comic timing is as perfectly polished as his pearly-white smile, brimming with frazzled comic energy that comes from being a hottie who just doesn’t know what to do with all of his chiseled abs. It’s a struggle!

Sydney, Meet Sydney: Sweeney, unfortunately, fares little better, as the script gives her less material to work with by design, making her kind of passive. Apart from an inspired bit in the beginning involving some soaked blue jeans and a hand dryer in a coffee shop bathroom, Sweeney falls just short of the kind of blushing yet quirky performance that America’s Sweethearts could crush in the 1990s. The two acquit themselves well in scenes, but their chemistry as a pair is… overstated. (Add to that the script’s insistence that such a contrived misunderstanding would cause these two to turn from soulmate material to bitter enemies; just know that the thing that makes them hate each other is so insubstantial as to beggar belief.)

Anyone But You (Sony Pictures)

Author: Michael

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