ANYONE BUT YOU
December 22, 2023 / Sony Pictures Canada
Starring: Sydney Sweeney, Glen Powell, Alexandra Shipp, Hadley Robinson, Dermot Mulroney, Darren Barnet, Rachel Griffiths
Directed By: Will Gluck
Bea (Sydney Sweeney) and Ben (Glen Powell) look like the perfect couple, but after an amazing first date something happens that turns their fiery hot attraction ice cold - until they find themselves unexpectedly thrust together at a destination wedding in Australia. So they do what any two mature adults would do: pretend to be a couple.
Written By Darren
Rating 4 out of 5
Anyone But You reignites the romantic comedy genre with the dazzling pairing of Glen Powell and Sydney Sweeney who prove themselves to be true movie stars in this safe but wildly entertaining romantic comedy that has everything you could want from a romantic comedy.
Romantic comedies based on the plays of William Shakespeare are nothing new to the genre, with some of the Bard’s works being used as the template for many fan favourite films in the genre such as 10 Things I Hate About You and She’s The Man. This time being based upon Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, Will Gluck returns for his first romantic comedy in over a decade with Anyone But You, and fireworks go off instantly. It’s a wonderful throwback to the romantic comedies of the 1990s in tone, that with the star power and dynamite romantic chemistry between Glen Powell and Sydney Sweeney, brings back the genre with a bang that is going to give romantic comedy fans lots to talk about!
There is no denying that this film is a hit because of the sensational pairing of Powell and Sweeney. They are two undeniable stars in their own right, Powell with films like Top Gun: Maverick, Richard Linklater’s Hit Man which opened to rave reviews on the festival circuit this past fall, and the Netflix romantic comedy Set It Up, and Sweeney with hit HBO series such as Euphoria and The White Lotus, and they have that classic romantic comedy chemistry that brings both the romance and the laughter to this film. While their characters Ben and Bea are fighting, the two of them lunge for each other’s throats hurling the one liners with vigour to great comedic effect, but there's a spark smoldering beneath it all. Then, when they pretend to be dating, there is a playful banter between them with some swoon worthy moments that teases their true feelings for each other. And when they finally acknowledge their true feelings and actually fall for each other, the romance between them flies off the charts, lighting up the screen and fully investing the audience in the story. Individually, both Powell and Sweeney are great, letting their charm and charisma bring their characters to life, making them the perfect leads for a romantic comedy. Fingers crossed for more films with the two of them together, as we have found the new “it” romantic pairing to follow in the footsteps of Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling!
The supporting cast of Anyone But You is having lots of fun with their roles, and it pays off in the film’s favour. While they are divided into two camps, either trying to get Ben and Bea together, or trying to get Bea to take her ex-fiancé back, each cast member fully embraces the film’s premise and sells it. Alexandra Shipp and Hadley Robinson are adorable as Claudia and Halle, fully connecting with each other on a romantic level as the couple getting married while being devious matchmakers for their two favourite people. GaTa has some fun moments as Ben’s friend Pete, Joe Davidson delivers some of the film’s funniest moments as Beau between the swimming scene and the shower scene; which the latter is all Davidson au naturel; while it’s fun seeing Dermot Mulroney in a romantic comedy again, especially one that could easily be the spiritual sequel to one of his most notable films of all time My Best Friend’s Wedding. And Michelle Hurd remains stunning as always as the mother of one of the brides, imparting her wisdom in love and setting Ben and Bea down their path to confess their true feelings to each other.
Even if the story does not offer anything new to the romantic comedy as a genre, it’s back to basics in the best way possible. Pretending to be in a romantic relationship, meddling family members and a destination wedding, it’s bread and butter for the genre, but with the roots of the story coming from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing gives the film a strong basis to work from (even if the Shakespeare text throughout is a little on the nose). From a truly swoon worthy meet cute in the coffee shop and adorable first date that sets the tone for the film, the jokes begin to fly after that and don’t let up until the film’s concluding scene. The film uses its R rating to create some raunchy moments, but it never crosses the line and becomes a gross out gag, instead keeping an earnest sweetness to the film that is reminiscent of classic romantic comedies with Julia Roberts and Matthew McConaughey. Whether it be the spider scene, any moment with Ben and Bea taking shots at each other, or any of Beau’s perfectly timed gags portraying him as the golden retriever of boyfriends, you will be laughing from start to finish. And because it’s shot on location in Australia, which by the way looks beautiful on screen, there are of course dangerous animals, koala bears and the Sydney Opera house to help set the mood. Under the direction of Gluck, and with him co-writing the screenplay with Ilana Wolpert, the film hits all the right marks to create both the romance and laugh out comedic moments. Once again, Gluck makes excellent use of a Natasha Bedingfield song, this time being “Unwritten” which is perfectly used as a serenity song. It becomes a running joke throughout the entire film that turns into a full blown karaoke moment as the film concludes and a behind the scenes anthem for the cast, ensuring that this romantic comedy has its signature musical moment.
While it is unlikely to win over new fans for the romantic comedy genre, those who are already in love with the genre are going to thoroughly enjoy every second of Anyone But You. It’s a good, old fashioned romantic comedy that retreads familiar story beats, using Shakespeare to bolster its charm, proving why audiences still love the genre. Will Gluck’s return to the romantic comedy is a welcomed gesture, but it is the star studded pairing of Glen Powell and Sydney Sweeney whose undeniable and breathtaking romantic chemistry makes Anyone But You one of the best romantic comedies in recent memory!