Is Rebel Wilson’s new movie going to be the best romantic comedy ever?

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Hannah-Rose Yee

It skewers every rom com trope, has an incredible cast, and features a plus-size lead character. We’re excited already. 

Everyone keeps saying the romantic comedy is dead, and yet we see no evidence of this anywhere.

Last year one of the best rom coms ever made, The Big Sick, was nominated for an Oscar. Just this summer Crazy Rich Asians became one of the highest-grossing movies of all time. Over on Netflix there have been six stellar rom coms – from Set It Up all the way to To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before – with three more Christmas-themed ones coming at the end of the year.

Romantic comedies aren’t dead they’ve just changed, shifting with the times and adapting to our new modern sensibilities. How could they not, when so many of them feature behaviour we would consider to be manifestly inappropriate today, like stalking (Love Actually, There’s Something About Mary, Say Anything) or catfishing (You’ve Got Mail) or relationships based on outright lies (10 Things I Hate About You, The Proposal, My Best Friend’s Wedding).

We’ve changed. We’ve gotten better at romance and dating and – we live in eternal hope – comedy too. It’s no surprise that our rom coms have had to change, too.

Henry Golding and Constance Wu embrace in the poster for Crazy Rich Asians

If rom coms are dead, then why was Crazy Rich Asians so successful? 

Which is why it’s the perfect moment for Rebel Wilson to release her new movie Isn’t It Romantic

Slated for release on Valentine’s Day 2019, it tells the story of Natalie, a struggling architect living in New York City. However, she has been scarred for life from her childhood years in Australia spent mainlining romantic comedies with her mother, played by Jennifer Saunders with an Australian accent that is so terrible it should be criminalised for crimes against the Commonwealth immediately.

Natalie’s life is not a romantic comedy. Her friends are brutally honest. Despite her qualifications, her job mostly involves getting coffee for her colleagues. When she makes eye contact with a guy on the subway it isn’t a cosy meet-cute, it’s an attempted robbery.

So when she wakes up one day, clad in a replica of the black-and-white outfit Julia Roberts wears on her shopping day in Pretty Woman and meets Blake (Liam Hemsworth), a dashing, bearded man who rides around exclusively in a limousine, she puts two and two together to get four. “Oh my God… I think I’m trapped,” she yells. “My life’s become a mother f*cking romantic comedy. And it’s PG-13!” 

Choreographed hilarity, gay best friends, pantone-coloured outfits and no sex scenes ensue. (In one particularly funny snippet from the trailer, Natalie comments that even though Blake has emerged from her pristine bathroom, breathless and ebullient and ripped to high heaven, she doesn’t believe that any real sex occurred. “I don’t think we actually did anything,” Natalie says. “It just cut to the next morning.”) 

This kind of sarcastic take on the romantic comedy genre is just what we need right now. We need a movie to skewer some of the more ridiculous romantic tropes while still giving us a product as fizzy and feather-light as the decades-old movies that we love.

We need a movie with winning, knowing nods to the history of the genre, like the fact that Natalie is an architect, the job usually given to men in rom coms. (See: Sleepless in Seattle, Three Men and a Baby and Just Like Heaven.) In rom coms men can be architects while women own cupcake bakeries or run fashion brands or are event planners. 

Rebel is trapped in a romantic comedy in Isn’t It Romantic

Also, we need Rebel Wilson making more movies like this. Speaking to Ellen Degeneres, the actress said she was “proud to be the first-ever plus-sized girl to be the star of a romantic comedy”.

Though that’s not strictly speaking true – we at won’t stand for this erasure of Queen Latifah’s entire filmography, or the movie Hairspray, or anything with Melissa McCarthy in it – we take her point. It’s so important for any woman who doesn’t look like the usual rom heroine (ie white and slim) to see themselves represented onscreen.

It’s so important for other plus-size women to see someone who looks like them working a high powered job, killing it in a new city and falling in love. This is the starry, storied stuff of romantic comedies, yes, but it’s the stuff of life, too.

Isn’t It Romantic is in cinemas on February 14. 

Images: Getty


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Hannah-Rose Yee

Hannah-Rose Yee is a writer, podcaster and recent Australian transplant in London. You can find her on the internet talking about pop culture, food and travel.

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