The cross-genre mashup of romance, comedy and sci-fi (specifically in the case of Meet Cute, time travel) isn’t a foreign concept. In fact, in 2020, Palm Springs was in my top 10 of the year and was one of the funniest and sweetest rom-coms, that just so happened to have a great implementation of sci-fi elements to set it apart from the regular crowd.
However, Meet Cute lacks in all three elements. The humour falls flat, the romance feels awkward and forced, and the sci-fi elements continually re-write its own rules to stretch a 90 minute concept to its absolute breaking point. Meet Cute is the sort of rom-com that says: “I’m quirky. I’m not like other rom-coms”, then proves itself wrong by falling into generic tropes that don’t serve its unique premise.
Sheila (Kaley Cuoco) sits alone at a bar, convincing the bartender (and herself) to go across and talk with a fellow lonesome drinker, Gary (Pete Davidson). After the initial awkward introductions and shaky conversation, the two hit it off enough to go out for dinner with each other. Sheila leads the way, choosing the restaurant, food and steers the conversation in a way that seems rehearsed, and in a way that prompts Gary to ask if they have done this before.
It’s here where Sheila proclaims that she is indeed a time traveller, who has come back to this moment multiple times in order to win Gary over, because she believes he is the love of her life. And for many times more, Sheila tries again and again to perfect the night in order to be with Gary.
The largest annoyance with Meet Cute (which almost seems redundant in complaining about) is that the story is too repetitive. It’s tough to pull off the Groundhog Day style story, where characters have to relive the same days or moments over and over in order to achieve a new result. And it’s been successful! Many, many times! But, the concept works well in highly irregular circumstances with a few good hijinks to follow. The reason Groundhog Day works is because it was one of the first films to play with the concept. It works in Edge of Tomorrow because it’s an action packed thrill ride. It works in Happy Death Day because there is an investigative element to finding out who the murderer is.
Meet Cute does not work because it’s full of mundane conversations that lack any substance, with two characters who aren’t engaging enough to keep you interested from start to finish. Even when moments of Cuoco and Davidson’s comedic talents slightly shine through, it’s never consistent enough to rely on making the movie entertaining as a whole.
As the movie progresses, and more about Sheila’s reasoning as to why she is hedging all her bets on trying to win Gary over are revealed, the emotional gravity is lost because there’s not enough to grab onto in order to love these characters. Rather, the film takes a darker tone that doesn’t match its first half, and never takes the subject matter seriously enough to leave an impact on the audience.
Meet Cute takes a fun concept that has been tried and tested in cinema before, and does nothing new with it. In fact, it regresses the sci-fi/rom-com to a point where the question of whether it’s worth making another film like this, even worth it.
Meet Cute is streaming on Prime Video from November 25.
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