If Rebel Wilson, Melissa McCarthy and Amy Schumer aren’t getting hazard pay for the ridiculous number of pratfalls they take in their respective movies, then something is really wrong in Hollywood. In “Isn’t It Romantic” (WB), a self-conscious, meta-rom-com parody with big song and dance numbers, one of the spills taken by Natalie (Wilson) results in a serious head injury.
The subsequent coma, for which she is hospitalized, sends her off into an alternate universe where, as the ultimate rom-com hater, she finds herself trapped in, you guessed it, a romantic comedy.
As a kid, Natalie loved Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman”, but Natalie’s realist mother (“Ab Fab”’s Jennifer Saunders) burst that bubble. Twenty-five years later, she’s a young, unassuming New York architect living in a rundown Queens apartment building with her ungroomed Bichon and unfriendly next-door neighbor Donny (Brandon Scott Jones), and she has grown to despise rom-coms.
Natalie is either abused or completely ignored by almost everyone at work, including sizzling hot client Blake (Liam Hemsworth). The exceptions are her mousy assistant Whitney (a virtually unrecognizable Betty Gilpin) and co-worker Josh (Adam Devine). Her awkward social interactions continue out of the workplace, as well, which we see when she is brutally mugged on a subway platform.
When she appears to awaken in a hospital room, she discovers that a multitude of changes have occurred. Whitney is now her stiffest competition at the firm. Blake has taken a romantic interest in her. Neighbor Donny (whom she had assumed was straight) is the most flaming of queens and is now playing the part of her rom-com gay best friend. And Josh, who had hinted at being attracted to Natalie, is swept off his feet by billboard swimsuit model/yoga ambassador Isabella (Priyanka Chopra).
Fully aware of the meta situation in which she finds herself, Natalie is constantly commenting on the events taking place. Some are laugh out loud funny, as in the Groundhog Day-like scene in which she wakes up to find Blake, wearing only a towel, repeatedly leaping into bed with her, although nothing actually happens between them. Others, especially the scenes between Natalie and Donny who, as Natalie predicted, is playing the part of the requisite gay best friend, are downright uncomfortable.
We’ve recently seen this kind of head injury/female empowerment movie done well, as in “What Men Want”, and abysmally, in the case of 2018’s unpleasant and misguided “I Feel Pretty”. With song and dance numbers rivaling those in the Joseph Gordon Leavitt vehicle “(500) Days of Summer”, “Isn’t It Romantic” falls somewhere in between. Eventually, it would be nice to see Wilson in something that really shows her range.