Anyone But You is a new romantic comedy film directed by Will Gluck and starring Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell in the lead roles. Releasing in theaters on January 19th, 2024, the glossy and energetic film aims to revive the rom-com genre with a familiar formula led by its attractive young stars. While it doesn’t always succeed due to an uneven screenplay and lack of chemistry, Anyone But You manages to charm its way into being a fun popcorn flick thanks to the appeal of Sweeney and Powell.
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The premise of Anyone But You centers around Bea (Sydney Sweeney), a law student who has a regrettable one-night stand with cocky finance guy Ben (Glen Powell). They become sworn enemies but are forced to reunite months later when they discover their respective siblings are getting married. To keep the peace, they pretend to be a couple as they travel to Australia for the wedding celebrations, leading to inevitable romantic entanglements.
With its playful Shakespearean setup of bickering lovers, exotic wedding locale and good-looking leads, Anyone But You aims to hit all the satisfying beats of an old-school crowd-pleasing rom-com. While it doesn’t fully succeed in recapturing the magic of classics like Pretty Woman and My Best Friend’s Wedding, the film still offers an enjoyable experience for fans of the genre.
The Formulaic Screenplay
The biggest weakness of Anyone But You lies in its formulaic and uneven screenplay by Ilana Wolpert. The film checks all the generic boxes – meet-cute opening, contrived conflict, big declarations of love – without bringing anything fresh. The supposedly witty banter between Bea and Ben also falls flat.
Much of the narrative feels convoluted as Wolpert awkwardly shapes the story to fit Shakespearean quotes. The constant misunderstandings between the leads to create conflict feel forced. Overall, tighter writing with more memorable dialogue could have helped elevate this rom-com into a truly standout one.
However, there are some fun escapist moments like Bea and Ben’s pretend couple charade that lend the film breezy romantic charm. Wolpert also succeeds in creating empathetic protagonists with enough backstories to gain investment in their journey. Clichés aside, the story hits its familiar beats with just enough sweetness and humor.
Chemistry Between the Leads
Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell are both gorgeous actors who seem primed to be big movie stars. However, they surprisingly lack palpable chemistry here which undermines the central romance. Their antagonistic banter falls short of being either funny or sexy. And when they eventually profess love, it doesn’t feel authentic.
Part of the problem lies in how they come across more as models than relatable lead characters. The film relies too much on their physical appeal without developing a real emotional connection between them.
But Sweeney and Powell still deserve praise for putting in charming performances. Sweeney nails the perfect balance of tough and vulnerable as the headstrong but insecure Bea. Meanwhile, Powell utilizes his easygoing charm and sharp comic timing to create a likable male lead in Ben. Both actors have bright futures as romantic comedy headliners with the right material.
Standout Supporting Cast
While Sweeney and Powell fail to sizzle, the supporting cast brings delightful flavor to the proceedings. Alexandra Shipp is vibrant and funny as Bea’s vivacious sister Lauren. Pop singer GaTa makes his promising acting debut as Ben’s flamboyant best friend JJ.
Veteran actress Michelle Hurd also gets to shine as Ben and Lauren’s society maven mother who constantly pokes fun at her son. Rachel Griffiths is hilariously high-strung as the wedding planner from hell. The ensemble provides enjoyable color around the edges of the central story.
Slick Direction & Production Values
Helmed by veteran director Will Gluck, Anyone But You benefits from slick and glossy visuals beginning from the gorgeous opening wedding sequence shot in Sydney. Gluck infuses the film with a high-energy pace befitting a frothy rom-com.
The top-notch production values are evident in the lavish costumes, sun-drenched cinematography and colorful production design. Pop singer Olivia Rodrigo contributes a catchy original song “For Now” played during the end credits. Visually and musically, all elements complement the breezy escapist tone.
An Enjoyable Escape
At its best, Anyone But You offers a fizzy rush of romantic excitement anchored by beautiful backdrops and pretty people. The story might be familiar but the film delivers exactly what it promises – gorgeous fantasy, light laughs and a happily ever after. Fans nostalgic for the Hollywood rom-coms of the 90s and early 2000s will find plenty to enjoy.
For those seeking something deeper, Anyone But You can come across as a formulaic and depthless exercise in wish fulfillment. But taken as a frivolous diversion meant purely to entertain, the movie succeeds on its own sparkly, sun-kissed terms.
Anyone But You follows genre conventions quite slavishly without bringing much novelty to the well-worn rom-com formula. From its artificial meet-cute to its grand declarations of love, everything feels like a glossy simulation of the great rom-coms of the past.
However, an effervescent charm still prevails thanks to the two incredibly photogenic leads and supporting turns. While Sweeney and Powell’s chemistry is lacking, their individual performances show tremendous promise. With tighter writing and a less formulaic blueprint, they have potential to headline a truly inspired revival of the romantic comedy. For now, Anyone But You offers a moderately enjoyable timepass for fans seeking pretty people and happily ever after endings.