In recent years, the mid-budget rom-com has been largely absent from theaters. This specific type of film that was quite successful in the 1990s and 2000s has fallen out of vogue in the past decade, which has led some to want to see a resurgence of the genre. While a full fledged rom-com renaissance hasn't occurred just yet, it seems that some major studios are trying their hand at making them again. While most recent rom-coms have gone straight to streaming, some still make their way to theaters, which is the case with Anyone But You. With a pair of conventionally attractive leads, gorgeous locations, and a Shakespearean classic as inspiration for its plot, the film feels like a bit of a throwback to the type of film that would do fairly well at the box office if it was released in the 2000s. In fact, it feels tailor-made for those who grew up watching films like She's The Man, 10 Things I Hate About You, and Easy A, and are looking for a bit of nostalgia. While I can't guarantee if Anyone But You will scratch that specific itch, it definitely has a lot to offer for fans of rom-coms, albeit with an R-rated edge to it.
After a chance encounter, Bea (Sydney Sweeney) and Ben (Glen Powell) share a wonderful evening together. But when their mutual attraction cools down after a couple of misunderstandings, the two begin to strongly dislike each other. When the two end up in Australia for a destination wedding, they find themselves forced to spend time together. Their friends and family take notice, and hatch a plan to help the two fall back in love. When Bea and Ben catch wind of this, they decide to pretend to be a couple with the hopes of keeping up appearances and to catch the attention of their old flames who are also in town for the wedding. Hijinks ensue, and Bea and Ben soon find that there may still be some sparks between them.
As someone who loves William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, I really appreciated how this film brings the Bard's classic play to the modern age. It isn't a perfect adaptation necessarily, but it is a cute re-telling all the same. It really reminded me of 2006's She's the Man, which is based off Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, as both films make good use of their respective source material, and maintain the comedic sensibilities at their cores. Part of why Much Ado is such a beloved classic is for its humor, which comes from eavesdropping, misunderstandings, and scheming behind people's backs. Anyone But You features this prominently (and pokes fun at it a little in the process) and it is ultimately one of its strongest assets. It pays homage to Shakespeare while twisting it to fit the present day fairly well, and leads to some of the film's funniest moments. I did take issue with the repeated motif of featuring Shakespeare quotes in random places between scenes, as it feels a bit cheesy. It is so distracting, and feels so unnecessary to the film as a whole. If you already know that this is based off Much Ado About Nothing, it just feels like a hat on a hat and takes away from the film as a whole. Aside from that, I really liked how they used the original play as inspiration for the film, and feel that it helps it out significantly.
Beyond the Shakespearean influence, the script itself is pretty basic, and the humor isn't always as solid as it could be. When it comes to rom-coms, you want the film to have some sort of balance between the romance and the comedy. This is exactly where this film struggles, as it feels lopsided in this regard. It attempts to deliver on both fronts, but it comes up a bit short. Make no mistake, the film has some funny moments, and the dynamic between Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell is pretty good, but I couldn't help but wish the film pushed a little more to make the romance or the comedy a little stronger. It does an okay job of this as it stands, but it does leave a little to be desired.
Of course, the main event here is seeing two really, really, ridiculously good looking people fight and fall in love, and if nothing else, the film makes good on this promise. Glen Powell has proven that he has the chops for rom-coms before with with 2018's Set It Up, and he brings his distinct charm to this film as well. Sydney Sweeney is a little outside her comfort zone here, as she is perhaps more suited for dramatic acting, but she is still so alluring nonetheless. As a duo, Powell and Sweeney are quite good, bouncing off each other and playing up the complicated feelings their characters have quite nicely. They may not be the most electric chemistry ever put on film, but they are still rather appealing and truly make the film what it is.
The film as a whole might not be enough to restore faith in the rom-com for the public at large, but it is at least a step in the right direction. It is clear that writer/director Will Gluck and his co-writer Ilana Wolpert have the right idea of what films like this need, but it doesn't fully nail the execution. It pains me to say this, because the film is a nice burst of fun and I enjoyed watching it, but it feels like there needed to be some tinkering to really help this film hit on a bigger level. I would love to see more rom-coms getting a theatrical release, as I tend to enjoy them, so it is encouraging to see a film like Anyone But You getting such a wide release and a lot of press. But I am unsure if this is the film that will usher in a rom-com-aissance, as it will take a film that is firing on all cylinders to truly make a difference. All of that to say, this is an enjoyable film, but it is a bit lacking in places.
Anyone But You is charming for sure, but it does feel like it needed to push a little more when it comes to its romance or its comedy. It is a perfectly fine movie on its own, but it does leave you wishing there was a little more to it. For those looking for a throwback to 2000s era rom-coms, this will likely be a nice little treat. I, for one, enjoyed it for what it is, and I'm sure most people will feel the same way. Sometimes, all you need in a movie is two beautiful leads and a simple premise, and that will suffice. This is definitely the case with Anyone But You, as it is fun, but it isn't reinventing the wheel either.