Thursday, February 29, 2024

Valentine’s Day movie guide: We rate 4 Netflix rom-coms

By Moira Macdonald, The Seattle Times

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, which means we all need happy-go-lucky Netflix rom-coms where very attractive, well-dressed people have romantic crises in nice apartments, right? I am only here to serve! While there doesn’t seem to be anything new that fits the bill on the streamer, I’ve watched and rated four new ones (all from 2023). Wishing you all a happy, perfectly accessorized Valentine’s Day!

‘Your place or mine’

(Netflix original; 111 minutes)

The premise: Harry and Sally, oops, I mean Debbie (Reese Witherspoon) and Peter (Ashton Kutcher), have been platonic best friends for 20 years in this great rom-com tradition – despite being polar opposites and living on opposite coasts . But when single mother Debbie’s babysitter fails before her planned trip to New York, Peter offers to fly to Los Angeles to stay with the child. Worlds collide, secrets are revealed and guess how it ends. Really, guess.

Reese Witherspoon, left, as Debbie and Ashton Kutcher as Peter in “Your Place or Mine.” (Netflix/TNS)

Adjustment: We alternate between Debbie’s cozy, cluttered California bungalow and Peter’s sleek, mostly empty, ultra-modern New York apartment where he keeps a secret manuscript in his oven, which seems like a stupid place to hide something if you get a guest.

Chemistry: Witherspoon and Kutcher are pros at this sort of thing, but they’re hampered by a storyline that places them on opposite coasts for almost the entire movie. It’s hard to joke about split-screen, and even harder to tell this story (in which Peter magically becomes the best dad in the world and Debbie, for some reason, never takes off her pair of sandals, to the point where I (I was worried that they were). were definitely fused at his feet) credible.

Other people: “Your Place or Mine” features a surprisingly random assortment of supporting characters, including Tig Notaro, whose role in this film is to carry takeout coffee (don’t ask me why; I’m just the viewer); Steve Zahn as Debbie’s neighbor/gardener/resident, eccentric person who mostly sits around playing guitar in Debbie’s yard; Jesse Williams as an almost comically handsome New York editor; and Zoë Chao as Peter’s bra-wearing ex-girlfriend who befriends Debbie, despite the latter’s predilection for denim.

The obligatory call for a Meg Ryan romantic comedy: Debbie, like Kathleen in “You’ve Got Mail,” raves about fresh school supplies.

Life lesson learned: Um, maybe it doesn’t take you 20 years to realize that your best friend is your soul mate?

Note : 2.5 hearts

“The perfect find”

(Netflix original; 99 minutes)

The premise: Forty-something Jenna (Gabrielle Union) is a New York fashion editor looking for a fresh start after a mysterious career setback. She takes a new job with beauty mogul Darcy (Gina Torres) and his funnily named publication DarZine, but things are quickly compromised when the adorable young photojournalist (Keith Powers) whom Jenna kisses at a party reveals herself. being Darcy’s son, Eric.

Adjustment: There’s a lot of talk in the film about how Jenna’s career downfall (described in frustratingly vague terms) necessitated her move to a “crappy” Brooklyn apartment, but I’m here to say that said apartment is really adorable, and if this is what shitty Brooklyn apartments look like. like, teleport me there immediately. DarZine headquarters, however, looks like a strange cross between a very chic airport lounge and a modern art museum organized by a rose enthusiast.

Chemistry: Union and Powers are quite adorable and find a genuinely sexy groove together, despite Jenna referring to one of her friends’ Eric as a “fetus.” (Come on, Jenna, he’s not THAT young.)

Other people: Torres is so imperiously good here — when she’s angry, you can almost see the smoke coming out of her ears, but it looks elegant — that I would happily watch a sequel simply titled “Darcy.” Jenna also has a lively assortment of extremely stylish friends who appear everywhere, including one who is throwing a birthday party for her young daughter who is so chic she has an all-black dress code (even for kids).

The obligatory Meg Ryan romantic comedy call-out: Eric is seen sadly and generously dragging a Christmas tree down the sidewalk all by himself, just like Ryan does in “When Harry Met Sally.”

Life lesson learned: Maybe it’s not a good idea to sleep with your boyfriend IN THE APARTMENT OF YOUR BOSS WHO IS ALSO HIS MOTHER? (Darcy, who gets awfully quiet when furious, is NOT happy. Neither am I, because I was worried about the damage to Darcy’s beautiful pink couch.)

Note : 3.5 hearts

‘Love again’

(It’s not technically a Netflix original – it’s from Sony Pictures Entertainment – ​​but it’s available on Netflix and if you think I can resist a romantic drama in which Celine Dion imparts life lessons, think again -you; 104 minutes)

The premise: Mira (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) is deeply in love with her boyfriend John (Arinzé Kene), who, in the film’s opening moments, brings her a pack of tropical skittles (fainting) and then immediately dies in a car accident, leaving her tragically alone. souvenirs and Skittles. Two years later, Mira sends some very sad text messages to John’s phone – which are read by cute British journalist Rob (Sam Heughan), the current owner of that number. You can figure out the rest.

Adjustment: New York City, in which Mira and Rob have disappointing, less-than-luxurious (although perfectly pleasant) apartments. Note, however, that Rob is a music critic for the New York Chronicle, a newspaper whose offices look suspiciously like a kind of hotel offering wine tasting in the lobby.

Chemistry: It’s decent! Mira and Rob both love opera and putting fries in their cheeseburgers, and Chopra Jonas is very good at the rather specific art of executing sad but loving looks while wearing a cute hat. Heughan, who I’ll have to see again in “Outlander,” is also quite charming and manages to convince us of Rob’s adorably silly plan to find Mira by going to the opera every night and, uh, maybe she’ll be there .

Other people: CÉLINE DION plays herself in this film, and yes, that’s in all caps, because she actually spends quite a bit of screen time lecturing Rob hilariously (she tells him he has “the presence of ‘a pair of used underwear’, which is the best burn I’ve heard in many years) and telling him that love takes courage. That’s done! I believe you, Céline! Mira’s heart will continue!

The obligatory Meg Ryan romantic comedy call-out: Rob runs through the nighttime streets of New York looking for Mira, just like Harry does at the end of “When Harry Met Sally.” (Bonus classic romantic comedy moment: Rob does a great lip-syncing cover of “All By Myself,” just like Renée Zellweger in “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” but without the sad pajamas.)

Life lesson learned: When Celine Dion tells you things, listen.

Note : 3.5 hearts

“Happiness for beginners”

(Netflix original, 103 minutes)

The premise: Recently divorced Helen (Ellie Kemper) signs up for a multi-day hike to broaden her horizons and get a fresh start. Unbeknownst to her, her brother’s handsome best friend, Jake (Luke Grimes), is also on the trip. Blisters, nature disasters, uncomfortable camping, and true love ensue. (Note, however, that this is the kind of cinematic fantasy ride in which everyone’s hair looks as good, or better, at the end of the journey than before.)

Ellie Kemper, left, as Helen and Luke Grimes as Jake in “Happiness for Beginners.” (Barbara Nitke/Netflix/TNS)

Adjustment: Unlike most romantic comedies, most of this film takes place outdoors, specifically about 80 miles of the Appalachian Trail in Connecticut. The fall colors are beautiful, making up (sort of) for this movie’s sad lack of cute date outfits.

Chemistry: Helen and Jake, as is required by law in romantic comedies, are annoyed at each other for much of the film, and I could have done without the Poignant Twist thrown in near the end. But Kemper, who has an enchanting way of lighting up as if lit by the sun, and Grimes are sweet together, and you root for these two despite yourself.

Other people: The rest of the hikers are a fun, motley assortment, including a young woman who brought a ukulele (as if camping wasn’t uncomfortable enough), and an extremely intense hike leader named Beckett who always says terrifying things like: “We’re packing our bags. at dawn!” (I, a person deeply committed to staying indoors, may be projecting here.)

The obligatory Meg Ryan rom-com caption: Helen adorably sings along to the radio while driving, like Ryan in “Sleepless in Seattle.”

Life lessons learned: Avoid walking on potentially hollow logs, treat blisters as soon as possible, put on your hiking shoes before you hike, and maybe just stay in town next time.

Note : 3 hearts

Moira’s Guide to Netflix Romantic Comedies

1 heart – Not even worth looking at with hate

2 Hearts – If there is nothing else to watch, try this

3 hearts – Watchable, a semblance of intrigue

4 hearts – Cute, comforting

5 Hearts – A Cult Classic

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