‘MEET CUTE’ Review: A Not So Fancy Take on a Classy Trope | Arts
“Meet Cute,” a term that serves as the title of Peacock’s recent original film, embodies a whole rom-com trope. It refers to the initial interaction between two individuals that culminates in a romantic relationship, and these chance encounters are usually characterized by charming and/or funny writing. There are countless examples of “meet-cutes” in mainstream movies: take a look at “The Holiday” or “Reality Bites”, “The Big Sick” or “(500) Days of Summer” ( a real example of a textbook). Meet-cute films are everywhere, and upon learning the simplistic title of Peacock’s new film, one has to wonder just how much a movie with that name can span such a widely represented and often-repeated genre.
At first, “Meet Cute” is exactly what one would expect. The film opens with protagonist Sheila (Kaley Cuoco) sitting alone in a bar, where she watches potential love interest Gary (Pete Davidson) as he doodles on errant coasters.
If you ignore the dramatic opening scene of Sheila’s pre-credits, where she rushes down a brightly lit night street, as well as her eerie jokes that she’s from the future, this movie could be a carbon copy of countless cute movies from the past. . Even Pete Davidson’s performance as the reserved and awkward Gary isn’t too shocking – although the fact that he was cast in the first place is a good indicator that the movie probably won’t take itself too seriously.
And “Meet Cute” certainly doesn’t have many cards up its sleeve – before the first run-in of the snap bar is over, audiences know essentially everything they need to know about the film. It’s a romantic comedy, of sorts, but there seems to be a half-baked attempt at irony in the setup, and Sheila also controls the unsuspecting Gary through her time travel powers. There don’t seem to be many more layers for the audience to decipher throughout the movie – but again, “Meet Cute” doesn’t seem to be about intellectually engaging the audience.
However, it becomes clear that there are darker underlying elements to this seemingly light-hearted film. When Sheila confesses to Gary at another bar that she killed the version of herself from the future (before time travel), she casually elaborates, “My car, just like, vrrr, just above his face.” Shortly after this development, Sheila’s complex motivations for time travel are revealed, giving the film more emotional depth. Audiences also witness disturbing scenes where she repeatedly drives her car over her own body.
To say that the combination of these darker, grittier thematic moments with the lighthearted performances of the two lead actors is unnerving would be an understatement. In the end, Pete Davidson is Pete Davidson — no matter how sincere the role he plays, it’s nearly impossible to completely separate him from the comedic brand that made him famous. The fact that Davidson’s Gary is meant to be an overly normal, unfunny, bland guy leaves audiences expecting some sort of comic change in his character, and the lack of that transformation makes Gary almost ironic but unrealized. Although Gary has a half-hearted handful of lines of dialogue throughout the play – on one of the many repeat dates, he asks Sheila if she knew the movie ‘Predator’ had both Jesse Ventura and Arnold Schwarzenegger , concluding, “I mean, it’s got to be a Snapple fact, or something” — her character as a whole is underwhelming and merely serves as a punching bag for Sheila’s increasingly manic behavior.
Along with its slightly off-putting blend of rom-com tropes and sci-fi psychological thrills, “Meet Cute” also tackles social criticism. On Sheila and Gary’s first date, they drive into an ice cream truck, only to find that the only flavor is “milk-based ice cream left to soak for two weeks and Fruity Pebble cereal served on a deconstructed peanut butter cone and jelly sandwiches.This critique of modern high-end food trends isn’t unique – at a later date at a fancy restaurant, Sheila asks about a tiny dish that made her is served: “Uh, is that a small fish? Are we supposed to eat this stuff? Later during a fight, when Sheila reminds Gary that his actions came from a good place, he responds with flair, “Yeah, gender reveal parties too.” While in many cases the witty commentary of “Meet Cute” isn’t too far off the mark, the film juggles too many other genres and delivery tones to make these jokes play out anything but over the top. .
Ultimately, “Meet Cute” tries too much and achieves too little. Combining a light-hearted comedic setting with darker – and sometimes very serious – psychological themes doesn’t result in a successful cohesive film. Despite the happy ending, “Meet Cute” can’t live up to its many promises — but Cuoco and Davidson’s lighthearted performances are still inherently entertaining.