3 stars (out of 4 stars)
Crazy Rich Asians might have saved the romcom at the box office last year, but Netflix gave the genre lots of sunshine, TLC, nourishment and watched it grow back to life. The behemoth’s latest entry? The raunchy Someone Great, starring Gina Rodriguez and Lakeith Stanfield. It’s not quite as charming or winning as recent originals To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before or Set It Up. Unlike those flicks, however, this one has a more meaningful message: Find yourself, then find the guy.
Rodriguez stars as a journalist living it up in New York City. She’s been with her boyfriend (Stanfield, Sorry to Bother You) for nine lovely years. They’ve been supportive and devoted to each other as they rise through their respective career ranks. But then they start to grow apart. And soon after she lands a coveted reporting job for Rolling Stone — which requires a move to San Francisco — he breaks up with her. This journey is all chronicled via a touching and relatable opening sequence. (Really, what’s more deflating than seeing a text message bubble go poof?)
Instead of staying in and bingeing movies on her couch, Jenny wants to mark the end of the era with her best friends. Enter Blair (Brittany Snow) and Erin (DeWanda Wise), who have their own share of relationship woes. Their plan: have one last hurrah in NYC and make a cameo at a rock concert. After all, good times are the best revenge.
So, we’re not dealing with a particularly great outline. A movie that relies heavily on a let’s-get-loud premise is too broad to have hilarious dividends. (I’d say the original Hangover is the sole exception, though it came with a clever turn-back-the-clock premise.) As the girlfriends smoke pot, score Molly, get high and start night crawling, the adventures become increasingly predictable and stale. They exclaim multiple times that they’re dead-set on partying until the sun comes up so where’s the surprise? Just because millennial girls wanna have raunchy fun instead of, say, Seth Rogen and his bros, don’t make their hijinks any fresher or more inspired.
Sure, it’s all mindless entertainment during rainy April showers. But it’s 2019. We should demand it all. Bring on the jaw-dropping outrageous and throw in the wit, fleshed-out characters and visible character arcs. That’s the difference between a stellar Bridesmaids and Girls Trip and meh copycats like Rough Night and Ibiza.
Someone Great, written and directed by Sweet/Vicious creator Jennifer Kaytin Robinson and produced by Bridesmaids director Paul Feig, still has plenty going for it. The flick actually works best during its melancholic moments. Jenny’s heartbreak is palpable — and even though she’s desperate to move forward, she can’t stop mentally rewinding her fights with her ex. The flashback scenes are painful but necessary. He isn’t a bad guy; he’s just not right for her.
Rodriguez is excellent in the lead role, showing off both her comedic and dramatic chops. Her transition from CW fare to meatier bigscreen material seems very promising. (Let’s officially repress that Miss Bala remake from a few months back.) While Snow and Wise do have considerable screen time, they’re not playing memorable characters. At least the trio’s friendship is authentic, poignant and chemistry-rich. Not to be a party buzzkill, but at the end of the night, isn’t that what truly matters?
Someone Great is available to stream on Netflix starting Friday, April 19.
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