Monday, April 29, 2024

Anyone But You offers the rare opportunity to watch a worthy rom-com

I must be getting warmed up for Challengers (a tennis rom-com with Zendaya that I'm very excited about) because - on the plane from Washington, D.C. to St. Louis - I had just enough time to watch Anyone But You. The flick does the genre relatively proud in a day and age when rom-coms have been stumbling along to find any footing. 

Bea, played by Sydney Sweeney with slapstick body language, is a law student who bumps into debonaire Ben (Top Gun: Maverick's Glen Powell) at a Boston coffee shop. The two hit it off and have a magical night together, which goes wrong when some pedestrian (it would have been better to be outrageous Three's Company-style) miscommunication occurs the next morning. This sets them on a course to despising each other, even after they randomly meet again months later and are forced into spending time together at a wedding in Sydney, Australia. 

The whole thing is like a ridiculous beach-read novel that you can't put down even though you know you probably should. It's also painfully far-fetched, but that's another reason to enjoy it some time when you have 90 minutes to put your brain on autopilot.

Here are a few interesting things about Anyone But You (not spoilers):
  • Sweeney was excellent in the first season of The White Lotus and has been one of the hottest actors since then.
  • The story is a loose adaptation of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing.
  • Darren Barnet from Never Have I Ever plays one of Bea's love interests.
  • Dermot Mulroney stars as Bea’s father and Director Will Gluck made the cast watch Mulroney's 1997 rom-com classic My Best Friend’s Wedding before filming.
  • Este Haim of the band Haim was in charge of music.
  • Production had some tribulations, including a spider biting Sweeney and a helicopter having to make an emergency landing.
  • Anyone But You caught word-of-mouth fire and made more money at the box office in week 2 of its release than it did in week 1 and more in week 3 than in week 2.
  • Part of the reason for the film's popularity was that Powell and Sweeney hung out together in real life and leaned into selling their chemistry as a reason for the masses to check them out on the big screen.
  • It has become huge overseas, with nearly $220 million in global box-office gross.
In the end, Sweeny and Powell truly do sell what would have been an average movie into a highly watchable one.

3.5 out of 5 stars

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