12 January 2024

Are we seeing the return of the cinema rom-com?

| Jarryd Rowley
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still from a movie in whic two actors are on a bouy on Sydney Harbour

Anyone but You is a fun rom-com with an Australian setting staring two of Hollywood’s fastest-rising stars. Photo: Sony Pictures

During the 2010s, the world saw a shift in how new movies were showcased.

Streaming services became an easy and accessible way to watch film and TV and, as they grew, so did their need to make new content.

In the early years, making films in genres like rom-coms was the way to entice people to the service while not breaking the bank. As a result, fewer and fewer popped up at the cinema.

Fast forward to 2023/24 and movies like Anyone but You seem to be breaking this trend.

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Anyone but You is a modern-day re-telling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and follows Bea (Sydney Sweeney) and Ben (Glenn Powell) after a fantastic first date turns sour. The pair believe they will never see each other again, but once Bea’s sister and Ben’s best friend get engaged, they are thrust back into each other’s company. Shenanigans ensue.

Straight off the bat, this film is raunchy! So be warned of that before you go with a sibling or parent …

Despite the second-hand awkwardness of a couple of scenes, this film is also a lot of fun and the perfect date night film. The lead couple are beautiful people, as the film would often let you know, but they are also quite charismatic and for the most part their chemistry is believable.

The duo get most of the jokes, and while not all of them land, the cheese and commitment to which they are told make it a fun watch. I found myself laughing out loud several times, which is what you want from a comedic film.

Audiences must also believe the lead’s chemistry as the film is topping the box office.

Despite their chemistry, I feel the pair’s ‘relationship’ timeline throughout the film has a few issues. I don’t want to spoil the film, but towards the end, a few things had to be rushed into place so the final act could happen. In my experience, a lot of romantic comedies can struggle in the final act, with some either grinding to a halt or picking up to breakneck pace. I did find it was an easier pill to swallow in a film like this as there are enough comedic gags to carry it through.

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The film is also set in Sydney. The familiar backdrop for this proud Australian makes this Hollywood film feel a lot more homely, even if there are some dreadful attempts at an Australian accent. There are several scenes of famous actors walking around the streets of Sydney and I’d often find myself saying, ‘Hey, I’ve been there!’ While this doesn’t necessarily add to the quality of the film, it is the first time since Mission Impossible II that I can remember an American film owning its Sydney setting.

I found the film a lot more enjoyable than many Netflix options. It looked a lot cleaner (Netflix has a weird choice in filters where everything looks darker or brighter), the writing for the characters was tighter and it was more comedy than soap opera. The hidden Shakespearian quotes make it fun for those familiar with the original concept and a certain Natasha Bedingfield song will be stuck in your head long after the credits roll.

While Anyone but You isn’t a genre-defining film like When Harry Met Sally or any Richard Gere and Julia Roberts movie, it has more than enough laughs to make it a fun time at the cinema.

Anyone but You is screening across Australia.

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