It’s like that girlfriend or boyfriend who is too cute, too bubbly, and tries WAY too hard too much of the time.
Adorable? Sure. A real net asset in your life, with more than a few fringe benefits. Maybe more fun than lovable, or vice versa.
Bur girrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrl? EXHAUSTING.
That’s “Someone Great,” a rom-com so up-to-the-minute “New York Romance Right Now” they could stuff it into a time capsule — or The Cloud.
Writer-director Jennifer Kaytin Robinson did TV’s “Sweet/Vicious” a few years back, and she and her players — Gina Rodriguez of “Jane the Virgin,” DeWanda Wise of Netflix’s “She’s Gotta Have It” and the reliably cute and funny Brittany Snow of the “Pitch Perfect” movies — hurl so much slang, so many topical references and use the drugs of the moment (weed and Molly), it’s as if they’ve stuffed a TV season’s worth of sassy/witty banter into a 90 minute movie.
Yes, there are glib laughs. And yes, there’s a very touching moment in the finale. But, yeah. Exhausting.
The three thirty-five year old actresses play three buddies from college who still hang, still party together in New York. Heck, Blair and Erin (Snow and Wise) still share an apartment.
But Jennifer (Rodriguez) is about to break all this up. She’s a writer who just landed a gig with Rolling Stone Magazine. As in San Francisco Rolling Stone.
And even though we have seen her ALL OVER her beau, Nate (LaKeith Stanfield of Sorry to Bother You” and TV’s “Atlanta”), giddily in love, that move has triggered a breakup. Together nine years, and that’s over.
Jenny is drinking and weeping, giggling and drinking, babbling and drinking. Now Jenny and Nate are just a “supercut” montage of flashback memories — meeting and flirting and sex and relationshipping — all set to Lorde’s “Supercut.”
It’s “The end of an era,” she tells her mates, talking about them and her affair with Nate. “I need one last epic day with my girls!”
They need to get into the big Neon City “pop up show,” which her new gig with Rolling Stone should make a snap.
They need to drink mimosas. But Erin, could you like, get some orange juice? And maybe some champagne?
They need to score some of the “Good Molly” for tonight.
Hell, they need to sing-along to Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts.”
“Yeah, I got boy problems, that’s the human in me
Bling bling, then I solve ’em, that’s the goddess in me!”
Yaaaas queen. That’s a direct quote, and yes, that’s kind of dated. Or will be in seven or eight minutes.
There is a LOT of music, more than a dozen colorfully-worded pop tunes, meant to amp up the energy and emotion of this or that scene. It’s a crutch, sure, but hey, Netflix is paying for the rights, so why not?
The dialogue is pause-and-replay snappy and worth quoting, a lot of it coming from Erin. Did I mention she’s African American and gay?
“You know the beginning of a disaster movie, right before the girl who looks like me dies, and like right when a girl who looks like you (blonde Blair) walks outside and be like, ‘Oh my God, look how crazy the SKY looks?’ This feels like that!”
Sassy? Oh yes. Rupaul-approved. And “bee tee dubs,” Rupaul makes an appearance as the dealer with “The good Molly,” named “Hype.”
The Screenwriting 101 plot has the trio plotting and planning to get into that one last epic show, and zig zagging across the city to do so — meeting this connection, that hook-up, doing what comes naturally on occasion.
Jenny is tripping, as the kids say — huge mood swings from giddy to “Oh no, Washington Square/Coke in a bodega fridge/that song reminds me of NATE!”
Nate as a leading man and a character? Way under-developed. What connected them? What really broke them up? Some questions are answered, eventually, and some remain a mystery as this is about the ladies, friend. The guys are just way stations.
As a “romantic comedy,” this venture is depressingly unromantic, a bit like a break-up in that regard. Not straight romantic, not gay romantic, just transactional and sexual, for the most part.
Wise’s endless parade of zingers — about how “Weed is like ketchup, it never goes bad,” ridiculing “hetero-normative lives” and how the easily-swayed tastes of “middle class whites” are like “reparations” to trend-setters of color like her, and how that outfit looks like “Liz Lemon ‘f—–d the Salvation Army” — are winners, and there are so many of them.
Archeologists digging into this time capsule two years from now will learn about “stress diarrhea” and “byeeeee” and the generation that grew up on Harry Potter’s references.
“Technically, I identify as a Slitherin with a Ravenclaw moon.”
“Yo, that is such a Slitherin thing for you to say!”
There’s this lovely little grace note, good advice from the last place you’d expect it
“You’ve been blessed with a broken heart…Live in this as long as you can.”
But there’s just…so MUCH that comes before it, and the players (especially Rodriguez) are trying EVER so hard to play younger it’s like their memories of being that age — or research — told them everybody was on Speed or Coke and not Molly.
It’s wearing. All that gushing over a relationship remembered for its physicality, and seen through rose-colored glasses, and we don’t have time to take a breath to consider it.
Nate is poorly represented in screen time, solely seen in flashbacks. Having only Jenny’s point of view is empowering, but hamstrings the proceedings.
The character arcs are as tidy and neat as the rest of the movie is breathlessly blurted and rushed, even not all that much happens. The big scenes aren’t big scenes at all, just vignettes — ideas for a sketch. Believable? Kind of. But thinly worked out.
I didn’t dislike “Someone Great” so much as feel like I needed to sleep it off, afterwards. For somebody who harps on “pacing” in comedies as much as I do, you’d think this would be a slam dunk.
I laughed at lines, not characters or scenes or situations. No wonder the soundtrack is crammed with tunes. There’s a lot of dead time and dead feeling to cover up.
Speed in comedy isn’t an end unto itself. “Urgency” is more important, and there’s not a hint of that here, no sense — in the least — that these three pals, so devoted (Hah!) to each other on that “one last night” — won’t have moved on before the moving van is out of sight, out of mind.
MPAA Rating: R for drug content, drinking, sexual material and language throughout
Cast: Gina Rodriguez, LaKeith Stanfield, Brittany Snow, DeWanda Wise.
Credits: Written and directed by Jennifer Kaytin Robinson. A Netflix Original.
Running time: 1:32