Romantic comedies can be a complicated terrain for the film enthusiast. The genre has had some great hits but there are also many many misses in that bag due to studios disinterest in creating great content for the genre. Netflix’s latest foray into the Set It Up, from director Claire Scanlon, is a charming addition to that list.
The best part of any rom-com, as we all know, is watching the chemistry and relationship unfold between two great leads. Zoey Deutch and Glen Powell deliver charming performances as the heart of the movie, while Lucy Liu and Taye Diggs add their own sense of humor as the supporting characters in the story. Harper (Deutch) and Charlie (Powell) are two overworked assistants who are toughing it out to work their way up to what they think is the path to successful careers. Harper works for Kristen (Liu), a sports reporter who has successfully created her own website for which Harper would love to write for some day. Charlie is the right hand man to the overzealous Rick (Diggs) hoping to get promoted to an analyst at his investment firm.
The script of the film does a great job at poking fun at some of the elements of stereotypical rom-coms; after watching the pair bicker through their own meet-cute, we immediately witness them start plotting one between their bosses. Harper and Charlie plan to work together to get their bosses to fall in love with one another, hoping that a relationship will help them get out of the office and help Harper and Charlie get some of their lives back.
The buildup of the friendship between Harper and Charlie, watching them slowly fall in love, is what makes this a great romantic comedy. The fact that the characters have a similar sense of humor and the funny “rom-com” antics they try to pull on their bosses adds another level of flair to the movie. There is definitely some more tongue-in-cheek humor in these “typical” rom-com moments Harper and Charlie try to create for their bosses. They try and fail to create the perfect meet-cute for them in a hilarious broken elevator gag, there is the kiss cam moment, and the picking up the pieces when the expected cracks in the relationship start to show; Liu and Diggs are given chances to truly shine in these moments.
The film also dabbles in the physical comedy realm with a standout scene at the beginning setting the tone of the film, with various assistants anxiously rushing around to complete the most ridiculous tasks they’ve been given by their employers. with some great little moments of physical comedy. Deutch and Powell play it well with Charlie throwing down his phone in the middle of a call when he’s surprised by Rick and Harper running around the office with Kristen’s Fit Bit because she needs to get her steps in. Another funny moment of physical comedy occurs when Harper is congratulating her best friend Becca (Meredith Hagner) on her engagement to Mike (Jon Rudnitsky), the three hug and then the couple starts kissing as the uncomfortable Harper tries to squirm out from between them. Those two along with Duncan (Pete Davidson), Charlie’s roommate and best friend, add the right amount of off kilter comedy to the plot.
This classic rom-com in the making manages to add some modern-day commentary, addressing Harper’s aspirations to be a sports writer and Kristen’s way of approaching her career and how she is treated for it (her peers and friends only seem to find her interesting once she becomes engaged). It’s the New York summer romance we didn’t know we needed in our lives.