A little delight in a romantic comedy filled with them is realizing that Anyone But You is a reworked and perverted rendition of Much Ado About Nothing by Shakespeare. But there are certain expectations for Elizabethan enthusiasts looking for a 21st-century solution. Will Gluck and Ilana Wolpert’s screenplay has largely destroyed the original content. Nonetheless, some of the quotes that appear along the route may be recognizable to people who are familiar with the 42-year-old drama. The names of the couple that bicker all the time are the dead giveaway.
Given that One of the roughly twenty rom-com story devices belongs to Much Ado About Nothing, it should not be shocking that Anyone But You lacks shocks, plot twists, or anything else that would make the film compelling to watch in addition to the leads’ chemistry. Yes, there’s a lot of that probably enough to keep the committed viewer interested for the entire 105 minutes but occasionally the narrative feels underwritten and the dough is a bit too soft.
In the meet-cute prologue of Anyone But You Flixtor, Ben and Bea have an uncomfortable first meeting. It culminates in a long night of conversation and canoodling until a misunderstanding causes them to have negative opinions of one another. A while later, they unexpectedly cross paths again when they are both invited to a Sydney wedding. While they are there, several friends and family members try to convince them to get together a strategy that would succeed if they weren’t so devoted to detesting one another.
Viewers can focus on the ingenuity of the dialogue, the nuanced comedy, and the chemistry between the leads in rom-coms with formulaic patterns. Though she frequently used clichés and tropes in her work, the late Nora Ephron was able to access some of Hollywood’s most desirable performers and had a quick pen and acute ear. Even with a Shakespearean edge, Will Gluck and Ilana Wolpert fall short of Ephron-like heights. The humor is likely to make you laugh or cringe, and the conversation is frequently uninteresting.
That places a great deal of responsibility on Glen Powell and Sydney Sweeney. They can handle it, sort of. Whether they’re jousting under the sheets or dueling with verbal rapiers, they make excellent fencing partners. Sweeney, who has already demonstrated her talents for humor and drama, has a few truly moving scenes in which she is not needed to speak. In one, the loneliness in her eyes elevates the scene to a new level.
Throwaway romantic comedies like this one used to be a staple of multiplex fillers. However, the genre has lost popularity with viewers, and because there are so few films in this genre, ones like this one are given disproportionate attention. I’m not sure if there are any other “holiday-season rom-coms of 2023” vying for the title.