While Netflix has had its fair share of misfires this year, one area they have excelled in is the reimagining of the modern rom-com. After When We First Met and Kissing Booth, could Set It Up be the third in a hopefully long line of successful romantic comedies that change how this genre is viewed?
Synopsis: Harper and Charlie are overworked, underpaid assistants wasting their 20s slaving away for bosses who treat them like dirt and work them ‘round the clock. When they realize that they would have much more free time if the people they worked for weren’t single, they concoct a plan to lure their bosses into a faux-romance. (Netflix)
Starring: Zoey Deutch, Glen Powell and Lucy Liu
Writer: Katie Silberman
Director: Claire Scanlon
Running Time: 105mins
Set It Up is as formulaic as romantic comedies can get. It starts off with a very simple premise that follows a predictable storyline. The story follows two overworked executive assistants named Harper (Deutch) and Charlie (Powell). Harper is an aspiring writer who works under accomplished sports journalist Kirsten (Liu) while Charlie hopes to climb the corporate ladder by sucking up to his successful boss Rick (Taye Diggs). As these two assistants are stretched to their limits by waiting hand and foot on their bosses’ menial tasks, they devise a plan to bring their bosses together and set them up in the hope that it might lighten their hellish schedules.
While this film is formulaic in its storytelling, it rises above thanks to its cast and script. The cast does phenomenal across the board with each role, lead and supporting, doing exactly what they need to. The onscreen romance between Harper and Charlie echoes the chemistry and nostalgia of Meg Ryan-Tom Hanks rom-coms of the ‘90s. That isn’t the only way that this story feels like rom-coms of the past as it borrows from many iconic films without feeling like a cheap rip-off. Instead, it takes these elements and reinvents them for a millennial love story. It could have dove into the themes of workplace culture and millennial life a bit more, but it scratched enough of the surface to have some emotional impact.
The best part of this film is the tight and cleverly written script. It is extremely funny, heartfelt and has real-life stakes that make these characters charming to watch. The best part of it all is that this romantic comedy is viewed from the perspective of its female characters. They are not seen as the damsel in distress that need saving, but rather as strong, badass, successful working women whose lives do not revolve around relationships and swooning over men. This is the modern romantic comedy.
Overall, Set It Up is a charming, light-hearted rom-com that is able to both live in its nostalgia while reinventing the genre. While the story is formulaic, the smart script, comedic moments and charismatic performances make this story one worth setting up to watch. It gives a voice to a dying genre on a new medium.
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