Set It Up (2018)
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So the premise of the film is very simple and the plot also develops along predicable lines. About ten minutes in, I was getting concerned about issues of workplace bullying, but then I got caught up in the energy of the story and the characters of the two assistants, Harper and Charlie, played by Zoey Deutch and Glen Powell. Yes, they are bullied and yes you could definitely say that the male boss - Rick, played by Taye Diggs - is a bit of a two dimensional caricature. But this is a romcom, not a documentary, so who cares.
There are enough laughs and the characters learn a little about themselves and about life along way, and most of all everyone - all the actors - get stuck in and really enjoy themselves. Right from Lucy Liu as the female sports journalist boss, right through to the cameos by the elevator engineer and the assistant in the jewellers.
It's a very wordy script delivered at a terrific pace, perhaps particularly thanks to Zoey Deutch, and most people should really enjoy it.
The only things keeping me from truly loving this is that it's predictable in the end, and more importantly the score was an abomination ripped straight out of a Hallmark Channel original movie. It felt like someone flicking me in the face for 90 minutes.
Deutch and Powell play Harper and Charlie, two young and ambitious characters working for a very special brand of pushy, domineering bosses. When they realize their common predicament, they set out to...set up their bosses, in the hope that it will lead to quality of life improvements for themselves. In an ironic twist, the ones being pushed around leverage their insights into personal scheduling and personal preferences to ensure the mis-match ends up matching. As is usual for mischievous do-gooders, there will be fraternizing and moral conundruming. And it will be fun.
Any successful rom-com hinges on the compatibility of its leads. Luckily, that's not an issue here, with both potential couples gelling or not gelling just as intended. It's the energy of all four key characters that keeps the movie alive, thanks to the odd piece of witty writing or amusing situation. I think I only rolled my eyes once at some ultra-corny moment that could have been avoided, but beyond that, director Claire Scanlon works gently and fairly with her characters. Everybody learns an important life lesson by the end and, surprisingly, it's a lesson I relate to, although I've never had the issue of overworking myself in order to avoid pursuing my passions. There are other, more pleasureful ways of doing it.
Two overworked and underappreciated assistants, Harper (Zoey Deutch) and Charlie (Glen Powell), serendipitously meet one night while working their typical late nights for their big shot bosses. After a brief exchange, they realize that they could give themselves more free time if their bosses started dating each other, so they agree to play matchmaker.
Their scheme begins with an initial meet cute that was less than stellar, but it was enough ignite a spark. The relationship is off and running, and Harper and Charlie guide their bosses along every step of the way.
Harper's boss (Lucy Liu) is mercilessly competitive and career driven, never giving a moment to consider her romantic life. Charlie's boss (Taye Diggs) is divorced, selfish and has some serious rage issues that are supposed to come across as humorous but are actually fairly alarming. They're far from an ideal pairing, but thanks to Harper and Charlie's "coaching," they hit it off.
Harper and Charlie spend more and more time together, becoming close friends as they successfully trick their bosses into falling in fake love, while they themselves possibly experience something real.
Let's be honest. Romantic comedies aren't ripe for spoilers because they're all predictable. This one isn't 100% that way, but you can probably guess where the story is headed.
Despite it's predictability and lack of originality, it's still mostly watchable. The two stars have natural on-screen chemistry, first as strangers, then as friends and so on. They're instantly likable individually and even more so when sharing a scene.
Although story isn't a strength of the film, the dialogue is quotable and the character development certainly isn't entirely weak. The bosses feel like trite phony concepts of successful movie bosses. They're abrasive, unfeeling monsters that inexplicably climb the success ladder without an ounce of people skills.
But the assistants feel like real people. They're competent yet flawed, courageous yet afraid, insulting yet caring. They mean well, even if they aren't always successful in their pursuits. Neither one is perfect, but they're a pretty much perfect set up team.
Ultimately, those two save what might have otherwise been a dull, run-of-the-mill rom-com. Thanks to them, it's one of the better movies of its genre that you'll find on Netflix.
This Netflix original rom-com packs an ironic lack of chemistry. With the quality of an amateur movie project, each sequentil line and scene feels like it was shot repeatedly and had the best takes cut and stitched together, which results in conversations sounding completely unnatural, characters spouting punch lines where they don't belong, and a general lack of flow from each moment to the next.
Relationships between characters seem forced and unconvincing, especially the two main characters who work in the same building, yet had never seen each other before and now just drop in and out of each other's office space like they've been best buddies all along.
So far as laughs, unfortunately there is not much to offer as the circumstances in which the slapstick potty humour arises, is too far fetched to instil any grain of relatability to the audience. To put it another way, the writers seemed to borrowed tropes from the horror genre that make you think "no, don't go there, don't do that, oh god why are you doing that?!".
I loved Zoey, the young female assistant, I wanted to keep watching her and hope to see her in other stuff. I love Lucy Liu, too and the male assistant. Just wish the content would have been better. It could have been a fun, mother-daughter movie.
I also like three of the four main actors, as I already know them from various appearances (Scream Queens, Ally McBeal etc.). Only the actor playing the male boss was unknown to me.
Unfortunately, the movie was a big, big let down.
First, for a supposed comedy, it was not very funny, brining laughter only once in a while and moderately. This is the opposite of Horrible Bosses.
Another major negative relates to the bosses, and this is a key difference with the Horrible Bosses movies.
The male boss' reactions and talk are so exaggerated they are unbelievable. Of course, he has to be horrible, but he almost only appears screaming or so, yelling at people, and there is nothing that could make us feel he is a human. It is impossible to get immersed or willing to follow what happens to him, which is not what should happen.
The female boss is less exaggerated overall, although many times, she's also inhuman given the ovelyr-excessive reactions and talk.
In Horrible Bosses, bosses were real humans (acting badly). I wanted to know what would happen to them. They were also more present.
The two lead characters (the bosses' assistants) are OK-ish, although the way they accept what their bosses ask them to do and how they treat them is not always believable or relatable. While I liked Glen Powell a lot in Screem Queens, he appears rather transparent and superficial in this movie. Zoey Deutch performance and contribution was OK I suppose.
The lead assistants' partners are moderately present. The female assistant's boyfriend is barely visible, but the male assistant's girlfriend is somewhat more present.
Also disturbing to me, it is unclear whether the movie wants to be a romance. While many parts point to that, there is a significant amount of vulgarity, which is hard to reconcile with true romance.
At the end of the day, a promising cast and idea, but a horrible output.