The rom-com has fallen into a very specific set of circumstances that it cannot seem to escape from. It’s a genre that essentially ran the early 2000’s, yet up until recently, they could rarely be found. Luckily, in the past few years, there seems to be not so much of a resurgence of the genre, but moreso a revitalization of them entirely. More often than not, it appears that filmmakers are attempting to take a genre that can sometimes be known as melodramatic or full of fluff, and turn it into a very fun vehicle. By adding certain elements, like introducing a sub-genre into the mix, a film can go a bit farther on word-of-mouth and excitement. In the past 2 years alone, we’ve had Fresh, Palm Springs, and 7 Days, among others. Enter Meet Cute, a new film from director Alex Lehmann that takes as much advantage as it possibly can when playing within the rules of another genre. In the case of this film, Lehmann and screenwriter Noga Pnueli dive into the wild world of science fiction; more specifically, they take a stab at time travel.
Standard rom-com fare will usually be straightforward, or at the very least, stick to a familiar set of story beats. Most films do, yet adding time travel into the mix is where the development turns a bit fascinating. With a nauseating amount of cinematic rules to follow (and that’s without including the literal physics behind it all), time travel can understandably become very messy rather quickly. In a smart decision, Meet Cute decides to blaze right past it all, throwing us directly into the seemingly awkward first meet cute between Sheila and Gary. Played by Kaley Cuoco and Pete Davidson respectively, the two stumble their way through a night that is seemingly a match made in heaven. There’s hiccups, but it can be blamed on nerves or alcohol without a second thought. As the night progresses, or as we quickly learn, repeats itself, the two characters set off to figure out how both can become happier with one another. This tension feels a bit off-putting at first, but according to Lehmann in a statement regarding the film, it seems more like an intentional choice than it does a fault. “Rom-coms usually leave me feeling deceived and manipulated… we had such a fun time exploring how to honor the genre while also challenging it”.
While sparsely doling out information about Sheila and the time traveling to both Gary and the audience, Meet Cute offers some ruminations on life that are impossible to deny their importance. While there aren't many second chances to go around in life, we shouldn't waste the ones given to us. The film certainly goes about this notion in a manner of witty ways that could fall a bit short, but when you have a film starring the forever-endearing Cuoco and a self-deprecating Davidson, it works itself out as best it can. With a very fun supporting role from Deborah S. Craig, this small-scale romantic comedy is a light romp through the streets of a New York night, in which there are few, if any, more perfect settings for a film like this.
It’s also quite refreshing to see a film that relies on time travel as a plot device but not as a crutch. At no point does the plot begin feeling moot due to the possible irrelevance of choice. Instead, the time travel merely serves as a backdrop for the central theme and characters of the film. One can only hope that more romantic comedies in the near future will capitalize on this exciting turning point of the genre, and in turn, bring some very fun, diverting romance to screens big and small.
Meet Cute is now available to stream on Peacock.