Glen Powell was papped shirtless on the beach in Mexico this week. That was my hook in getting you to read this post. Which is about rom-coms.
Glen’s rom-com, Anyone But You, starring Sydney Sweeney, was not well received by critics, including Sarah (you can read her review here), but the movie is considered a box office hit, recently passing the $50 million domestic mark against a $25 million budget. And it's generated some viral momentum with Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten” as people have been posting videos of themselves leaving the theatre dancing and singing to the song. So overall not a career loss for both Glen and Sydney Sweeney even though it’s far from their best work and certainly not, in my opinion as a rom-com expert, a memorable rom-com. I had high expectations for it that they didn’t meet.
But this is the thing about rom-coms and the people who love them – and it’s also why Jennifer Lopez can keep bouncing back – you’re never not a believer. One bad rom-com doesn’t turn you off rom-coms. This is the power of love! You can’t have love without hope!
So on that note… a new rom-com is here to save us (again)! The trailer for the upcoming Upgraded, starring Camila Mendes, was released yesterday. I could not hit play fast enough when the email from Prime Video hit my inbox. And then I immediately texted it to Kathleen, my rom-com partner, to tell her, “I am ALL THE WAY IN on this”. Obviously she replied immediately in agreement.
There are several reasons why I’m so optimistic about Upgraded. First of all, Camila Mendes. I will take Camila Mendes as a rom-com queen over Sydney Sweeney any day. Second, Marisa Tomei is being set up as the villain. Marisa is iconic – and I don’t throw this around lightly. She’s Mona Lisa Vito! Fire Island gave her the flowers she so rightly deserves!
Marisa is connected to point number three – which is that this rom-com is also about work. It’s basically an updated The Devil Wears Prada, with Marisa in the role of Miranda Priestley. Same DNA but not an exact copy. So it’s a formula but not a formula that Prada created. Workplace hijinks are a rom-com trope. Think Working Girl, Broadcast News, Jerry Maguire, What Women Want (sorry about the Mel Gibson reference but that was a HUUUUUGE movie), Love and Basketball, How To Lose a Guy in Ten Days, Brown Sugar, and yes, even Glen Powell’s Set It Up….all of them are about work, jobs, employment, careers. When you add work into a rom-com, the stakes are so much higher, which is what was missing from Anyone But You. And the fourth and final reason – the male lead in Upgraded, Archie Renaux is cute and hot (you would know this if you watched Shadow and Bone).
Upgraded is giving us other rom-com tropes too. There’s a trip, she travels to Paris. There’s a lie – she tells him she’s more important, professionally, than she actually is. There’s a makeover involving a very sexy black dress. What more could we possibly ask for?
See? Just like that, our hearts have rebounded. A new rom-com to fall in love with in just a matter of weeks.