Romantic comedies used to be a dime a dozen. Just package two attractive stars with a contrived situation, and you had a movie. There were so many bad ones in the '90s that it was understandable that they fell out of vogue and invited scorn. But a romantic comedy with good writing, big laughs and a couple you actually root for, like When Harry Met Sally or Bridget Jones's Diary? Few things are better.
The clever folks have seen all the good ones and all the bad ones (and they've even written several of the latter), and are ready to mock them all, even if they secretly love them. That makes this a loving parody instead of an absurd satire, like 2014's slightly venomous They Came Together.
Rebel Wilson finally gets the star vehicle she deserves as Natalie, an architect for unglamorous projects like parking garages. She has a tiny apartment, a mangy dog and lives in a noisy neighborhood. (This is the first modern mainstream movie I can recall that doesn't make New York City seem like a fun place to live.) Her co-workers try to pawn off their tasks on her but get through the day because of her real friends at the office (Adam Devine and Betty Gilpin).
When she flees a mugger on the subway and hits her head, she wakes up in that New York we've seen so many times. Everything is bright, colorful and romance is right around the corner. For Natalie, this is hell, especially since it's a PG-13 rom-com where there's no sex and no swearing. So, of course, there are established rules she has to follow to get out of this situation, which should be familiar to anyone who's seen John Candy's Delirious or director Todd Strauss-Schulson's last film The Final Girls.
Since Isn't It Romantic knows you've seen and love rom-coms, it shouldn't be surprising where any of this goes. But it's still a blast from start to finish, complete with not one but two choreographed dance numbers. Had the film actually deconstructed more of the tropes it mocks, instead of simply pointing them out, it could have been a classic. Just as it is, though, it's a total delight.