Meet Cute (Review) – A Time-Loop Rom-Com That’s Far From Cute

DIRECTOR: Alex Lehmann

CAST: Kaley Cuoco, Pete Davidson, Kevin Corrigan, Deborah S. Craig, Rock Kohli, Hari Nef, Sierra Fisk, Rebecca Schull, Pat Bowie, Josy Soriano, Mia Matysiak, Andrew Stevens Purdy, Wesley Holloway

RUNNING TIME: 89 mins

CERTIFICATE: 15

BASICALLY…: A woman (Cuoco) uses a time machine to turn her date (Davidson) into the best possible match…

NOW FOR THE REVIEW…

Time-loop comedies often always follow pretty much the exact same formula – person finds themselves waking up the same day over and over, they get familiar with the repeated occurrences, and eventually they make enough changes to finally get themselves out of the loop – but few of them actually take the time to explore the long-term psychological consequences of spending so long trapped inside one reoccurring day. That is more or less the mission statement of Meet Cute, a time-loop romantic-comedy that chooses to focus much more on how mentally damaging such a thing can be for anyone, but none more so than somebody who actually has the choice of controlling their own repeated nature.

The film starts innocently enough, with a woman named Sheila (Kaley Cuoco) sparking up a conversation in a bar with Gary (Pete Davidson), and soon the two of them are wandering the streets of Manhattan together on a seemingly perfect first date. Except, for Sheila at least, it is far from their first date. As she slowly reveals, she previously came across a tanning bed time machine that allows her to travel twenty-four hours into the past, and decided to continuously relive her perfect night with Gary as a means to maintain her newfound happiness. The only downside – aside from having to kill her past self every morning by running her over – is that she is clearly starting to become more and more unhinged as she keeps trying, and failing, to convey her true feelings to Gary, especially when she attempts to go back even further to try and mould him into a much more secure man.

The film gets surprisingly darker from there, particularly as it brings mental illness and even themes of suicide into the main storyline, which all ties into the admirable fact that Meet Cute is the kind of rom-com that fully acknowledges that its lead character is unwell. Had Sheila’s motivations and actions been taken lightly or not so seriously, then it really would have been that much more awkward of a film to watch, because the whole time you know there’s something psychologically wrong with this character, but it’s being treating like a quirky trait rather than a serious flaw. Credit goes to writer Noga Pnueli who, along with director Alex Lehmann, takes the time (no pun intended) to show exactly how her mental state – which, as we soon find out, was already extremely fragile by the time she came across said time machine – is just going more and more off the rails the more times she relives this date over and over. It doesn’t always escape that uncomfortable feeling, though, as even with its awareness of the lead character’s unsound mind, there are still scenes where you’re not sure whether to laugh or cringe as she keeps making one ill-advised decision after another, particularly when she starts meddling with people’s personal childhood experiences. However, the very notion that the film at least wants to make its psychological ramifications very apparent in the narrative is a noble enough gesture for this kind of film.

Beyond that interesting angle, though, Meet Cute isn’t a film that exactly screams out for a rewatch. The lead performances are strong, and it’s a fairly well-made film with some good cinematography at times, but the plot itself doesn’t do much else to stick out from the many others like it. It’s all rather slight, even with the heavy themes that it carries, and doesn’t lend itself too much significant conflict until it’s at a point where you’ve already decided whether or not you care for these characters. Certain things are also easy to predict, thanks to some on-the-nose foreshadowing which becomes apparent when characters mention important figures from their childhoods, and with time-travel being involved you can probably already connect many of the dots. The way in which the film ends, after a number of very alarming stuff has occurred, also makes it a bit hard to believe that certain people will end up together, because there are things which from an ethical and moral standpoint would be pretty hard to forgive in an instant, all the while thinking that, if one were in a particular person’s shoes, they would want to stay as far away from the other person as they possibly can (but after securing them the help that they desperately need, of course).

There are definitely some note-worthy things to say about Meet Cute, such as its hard focus on the psychology behind being wilfully stuck in a time-loop over many of the usual romantic-comedy tropes, but its thin and largely familiar plot doesn’t do much to convince viewers that they need to revisit it in the future. It’s simply another one of these time-loop movies that just goes in one ear and out the other, which at times can work just fine, but for its ambitious themes you feel as though the filmmakers needed to travel back themselves and correct their mistakes.

SO, TO SUM UP…

Meet Cute is a time-loop romantic-comedy that ambitiously places a large focus on the psychological consequences of reliving the same day over and over again, but beyond that – as well as some fine performances and decent filmmaking – it struggles to escape that overly familiar narrative loop.

Meet Cute is now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.

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