If you saw the trailer for this movie and have seen any romantic comedy movie in your life, you know what happens in Anyone But You. This modern adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” stars Glen Powell and Sydney Sweeney as a guy and a girl who meet, have a connection, and a wonderful first date but don’t meet again until a while later. When Ben’s (Powell) friend’s sister marries Bea’s (Sweeney) sister, these almost lovers find themselves stuck on an island together. While there, they decide to pretend to be a couple so that Bea can convince her parents to think she’s in a relationship and Ben can make his ex-girlfriend jealous.
Now that I’ve told you that premise and that it’s a romantic comedy, I think you can gauge where this story will go. My reviews rarely have spoilers in them, but it’s hard to spoil a movie that sticks to a tried-and-true formula to a tee. Anyone But You is directed by Will Gluck, who you may know for directing Easy A, Friends with Benefits, and Peter Rabbit. He has directed many comedies for many demographics, and this is his rated-R rom-com. His screenplay, co-written with Ilana Wolpert, does nothing unique with the genre. It doesn’t approach it from a fresh perspective, nor does it offer any commentary. It simply does every rom-com trope you would expect from a classic ’90s or ’00s movie in the genre.
For some, that will be a huge selling point. Many have missed the theatrically released rom-com, which has declined in recent years. Rom-coms are often seen on streaming now, but the idea of two people pretending to be a couple has been done before in Netflix’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. It’s not a particularly fresh idea, and the execution is frustratingly generic. Yes, the story of two people who can’t stand each other being forced to act like a couple can be hilarious, but Anyone But You does not always push the humor or awkwardness far enough for the laughs to land. It’s occasionally funny, but it’s mainly going through the motions of everything you expect out of the genre.
The biggest draw of this movie is the two leads. This movie takes two attractive young stars—Powell (Top Gun: Maverick, Devotion) and Sweeney (Euphoria, The White Lotus)—and throws them together. It’s no wonder why they’ve had a chemistry-fueled filming experience and a flirty press junket (some of this has to be manufactured). Fans have speculated if Powell and Sweeney have been secretly dating, which is the exact publicity a movie like this needs. The chemistry exists throughout Anyone But You, as their characters exchange insults and don’t like each other but grow closer. This kind of movie with this kind of publicity is old-fashioned, but you can’t beat a classic.
When it comes to the comedy here, some of it works, and some of it doesn’t. The first gag surrounds Bea accidentally spraying sink water over her groin area and relying on the bathroom hand dryers to dry her pants off. This gag is taken directly from the 1997 Mr. Bean movie, except it was much funnier in that film. A few of the other gags in this film feel a bit manufactured and staged for an audience, such as another moment earlier on where Bea tries to steal a cookie in a plane and ends up in a compromising position. One of the funnier ideas is when Pete (GaTa) and Roger (Bryan Brown) stage a conversation for Ben to overhear. However, many of the antics are predictable, going for broad humor rather than anything organic.
Anyone But You also does not exactly give the joy that you would expect from a movie within this genre. The screenplay and cinematography are so pedestrian that the romance never becomes as cute as it could. It’s formulaic to a fault, but Powell and Sweeney are fun to watch. The strongest elements of this movie are their banter and the way their actions define their own insecurities and pasts. There is one character detail surrounding Ben’s mother that seems as if it was supposed to be elaborated on, but it is instead briefly touched upon and forgotten halfway through the movie.
By and large, Anyone But You is one of the most cliché, predictable films of the year. It hits every single beat you expect out of a rom-com, not going one step above or below it. A movie can follow a formula, but when the execution is this mediocre, it’s not worth seeing, especially if you can imagine what the story will be based on the trailer alone. Genre lovers may still enjoy this movie for what it has to offer. Similar to Gluck’s other film Easy A, he uses a Natasha Bedingfield song excellently. The end credits sequence is sure to have you leaving the theater with a smile on your face. But if predictable rom-coms make you roll your eyes, you can skip this one.
As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 5 equates to “Mediocre.” The positives and negatives wind up negating each other, making it a wash.
Disclosure: ComingSoon attended a press screening for our Anyone But You review.