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‘Anyone But You’ review: Shakespeare diluted

Despite its appealing leads, Will Gluck's romcom is too generic to stand out

Glen Powell and Sydney Sweeney in 'Anyone But You'. Image via AP
Glen Powell and Sydney Sweeney in 'Anyone But You'. Image via AP

A meet-cute in a coffee shop shows some potential but rapidly declines into a mess the minute a seemingly jittery Bea (Sydney Sweeney) enters the washroom. This is after a suave man named Ben (Glen Powell) has bailed her out with a quickly thought up charade. That coffee shop moment turns into a day-long date which looks like it’s headed for a happily ever after. But every romantic-comedy needs a misunderstanding, and this one pivots on a flimsy one.

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Some months later, Bea and Ben are thrust together at a destination wedding in Australia where Bea’s sister Halle (Hadley Robinson) is marrying Ben’s best friend Claudia (Alexandra Shipp). Bea and Ben engage in a verbal sparring match that continues all the way to Sydney, where the duelling pair becomes the centre of everyone’s attention. Claudia’s interfering family—father Roger (Bryan Brown), mother Carol (Michelle Hurd) and brother Pete (GaTa)—is focused on reuniting these two adults. In fact, far more attention is given to plotting how to get Bea and Ben back together than to the actual wedding. This involves a whole lot of loud whispering in earshot of Bea and Ben and planting suggestive ideas in their heads. On the other hand, Bea and Halle’s parents Leo (Dermot Mulroney) and Innie (Rachel Griffiths) are fixated on getting Bea back together with her former sweetheart Jonathan (Darren Barnet). There’s also a redundant track about Bea’s enrolment in law school. 

Bea and Ben don’t want to wreck Halle and Claudia’s special day, so they pretend to like each other, until, inevitably, they really do like each other. 

After a sizzling role as pilot Jake ‘Hangman’ Seresin in Top Gun: Maverick, Glen Powell gets plenty of scenes to show off his six-pack on the beaches down under. Sydney Sweeney matches up to him in her cutesy two-pieces. Director and. Best known for playing Olivia Mossbacher in The White Lotus and Cassie Howard in Euphoria, Sweeney also serves as executive producer on Anyone But You

Ilana Wolpert and Gluck’s script (loosely based on William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing) adopts several genre tropes. You know a large boxed cake is going to meet a messy end, a hint about romantic moments at the Sydney Opera House will provide the setting for the climax, an ex-lover will make the heroine jealous and a token Australian animal must show up (Koala Bear, because Australia, mate). 

Besides the dull writing, which doesn’t deliver a clever gag, smart situational comedy or even a stand-out ‘aww’ moment, Gluck’s (Friends With Benefits) direction is equally uninteresting. Can we please get over the cheesy ‘Titanic’ pose on a boat and the cliche of men jumping into the water to save seemingly helpless women who fall overboard? The most inventive and enjoyable thing in this 103-minute film is the end credits with the cast uninhibitedly lip-syncing to Natasha Bedingfield's Unwritten, which happens to be Ben’s serenity song.

If you are leaning towards a rom-com, pick a film by Mike Newell, Nora Ephron, Nancy Meyers or Richard Curtis film or Kenneth Branagh’s 1993 adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing. Anyone But You will dilute your mood for love.

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