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Review: Anyone But You (2023)

Anyone But You (2023)

Directed by: Will Gluck

Premise: Bea and Ben (Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell) break up after a promising first date only to be reunited when they are invited to the same wedding. When Bea’s parents try to set her up with another ex, Bea and Ben pretend to be in a relationship which triggers old feelings.

What Works: Anyone But You benefits from a contemporary feel. Romantic comedies generally follow a formula that hasn’t changed much since Hollywood’s studio era. Anyone But You does not reinvent that formula (not even close) but the filmmakers do bring a contemporary sensibility about sexuality and dating to the material that makes it feel relevant. There are two elements required by any movie romance. The first is a likeable couple. That requirement is fulfilled by Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell in the lead roles of Bea and Ben. Both actors are very attractive but perhaps more critically they have a palpable romantic chemistry. Sweeney and Powell make us want to see their characters end up together and the extent to which Anyone But You succeeds is largely due to their casting.

What Doesn’t: The other necessary element to a romantic story is an obstacle keeping the lovers apart. That’s mostly missing from Anyone But You. The film opens with a meet cute in which Bea and Ben hit it off only to suffer a misunderstanding that their pride prevents them from resolving. They reunite at a time when they are both single and there is nothing tangible keeping them from giving into their obvious attraction. The filmmakers try to construct a conflict but it is very obviously flimsy and doesn’t create any dramatic tension or stakes. Bea’s parents invite her ex-fiancé (Darren Barnet) to the wedding in the hope of reconnecting them while Ben meets an old flame who is now dating a surfer. Bea and Ben pretend to be a couple to throw off Bea’s ex and attract Ben’s former lover but naturally they end up falling for each other instead. It’s obvious where this is going and Anyone But You is rote and cliché. The supporting characters are unbelievable. These are the kinds of people who are only found in romantic comedies and sitcoms and nothing comports with reality. The days before the nuptial ceremony are full of generic romcom activities like hikes and boat rides instead of furious last minute wedding planning and instead of doting on the couple getting married everyone focuses their attention on Bea and Ben, even the brides.

Bottom Line: Anyone But You is light and the leads are likable enough to make this passable for viewers looking for a romantic comedy but everything about this picture is predictable and a lot of it is unbelievable.

Episode: #981 (January 21, 2024)