“Isn’t It Romantic” is the second comedy in less than a week, after “What Men Want,” in which a woman gains the power to improve her life following a concussion.
Natalie (Rebel Wilson), an architect whose colleagues treat her as a doormat, disdains romance and hates it in movies. Her appearance is played for laughs. (A halal vendor implores her to stop his runaway cart with her body.) Then, in the process of foiling a mugger, she smacks into a metal beam in a subway station and wakes up to find herself in a romantic-comedy version of New York, filled with clean air, flowers and cupcakes.
She has a meet-cute with a Hemsworth (Liam). Her dog is suddenly obedient. Her newly capacious apartment looks like the 21st-century equivalent of a Doris Day pad. (The title’s nod to Rodgers and Hart notwithstanding, “Isn’t It Romantic” mostly operates on the assumption that rom-coms were invented in 1990 with “Pretty Woman.”) And her mousy best friend, Josh (Adam Devine), who was always encouraging her to be confident, has his own meet-cute with a woman who is both a yoga ambassador and swimsuit model (Priyanka Chopra).
In short, the movie invites the screenwriters — Erin Cardillo, Dana Fox and Katie Silberman — to do their worst, cliché-wise, and then to mock themselves. Some of the parody lands, such as a running joke about how Natalie is trapped in a PG-13 world, where her foul language is dependably bleeped out by street traffic and prim edits elide her efforts to have sex.
The director, Todd Strauss-Schulson, who had a way with projectile gags in “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas,” keeps things visually lively whenever the film turns into a stealth musical. (“How did everyone know the choreography?” Natalie asks Josh after a bar crowd joins in her killer karaoke rendition of Whitney Houston.)
Wilson, leaning on her comic persona to compensate for the script’s lack of wit or inventiveness, is a reliable deadpanner. Her one-liners — calling the alternate universe she’s trapped in “‘The Matrix’ for lonely women,” for example — are funny enough to carry this featherweight movie as far as it can go, which isn’t far. The film’s reliance on conventions even as it snickers at them gives it the faint air of a con.
“Isn’t It Romantic” is designed to leave viewers feeling lightheaded and forgetful. That dizzy sensation could be love — or a mild head injury.
Isn’t It Romantic
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Isn’t It Romantic
Rated PG-13. (Parents strongly cautioned). Isn’t that meta. Running time: 1 hour 28 minutes.
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