June 14, 2018

SCREEN | Deutch and Powell 'Set It Up' for Romance on Netflix

"We're full on Parent Trap'ping hard."
Claire Scanlon | Netflix Set It Up

Director Claire Scanlon and screenwriter Katie Silberman, both making their feature debuts from television, have crafted a straight-up delightful studio-style romantic comedy like they use to make. Set It Up starring Zoey Deutch and Glen Powell, who both broke out in the underrated Everybody Wants Some!!, as dynamite young screwball romantic leads feels like a throwback to late '90s to early 2000s Manhattan buddy romances.

Deutch and Powell play high-strung personal assistants, Harper and Charlie, to two workaholic horrible bosses at the top of their fields (Taye Diggs and Lucy Liu) in New York City. They hatch a rom-com style plan (think Parent Trap meets The Devil Wears Prada) to set them up and trick them into a relationship to make their own lives easier.

The fun but expected story beats only somehow enhance the cast's breezy chemistry and relationship antics trolling around New York. Set It Up does its best to express the struggles of young Manhattan professionals trying to discover themselves personally and professionally through their fraught relationships in entertaining fashion.

Silberman's breezy script and Scanlon's snappy direction are casual yet economical in establishing our two conventional romantic leads, their adversarial bosses, parallel predicaments, personal situations, and even sidekicks—Meredith Hagner and SNL's Pete Davidson who delightfully plays Powell's gay roommate—before getting to the fun part of exploring the different character relationships in different fun situations.

Claire Scanlon | Netflix Set It Up

Every step of the deliberately paced and constructed slow romance builds the story's momentum and pays off the different interpersonal relationship dynamics sublimely. Deutch and Powell are so charmingly delightful it hurts. Their romance is only ever teased through their building chemistry as colleagues building as their professional goals meet their personal realizations.

What it lacks in originality, it makes up for in entertaining contemporary twists. The film features all the usual but necessary genre tropes and clich├ęs updated for current times and introduced—a gay roommate, engaged best friend, airport speech, and trapped in an elevator meet cute—as organically as possible.

The key to Set It Up's successful rom-com genre antics is how they quickly they pit Deutch and Powell against each other, immediately bond them over their common struggles, join them in a shared goal, and build their chemistry as partners before teasing and suggesting their obvious potential romance without any forced or problematic dynamics typical of romantic depictions. It knows what kind of story it wants to tell and unfolds it splendidly.

Set It Up is available for streaming on Netflix.

More | YVArcade / Cosmopolitan / Indiewire

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