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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

‘Anyone But You’ is leading the rom-com renaissance

Elizabeth Larson

Everyone knows that the best romantic comedies are based on William Shakespeare’s work.

From “She’s The Man” finding its roots in “Twelfth Night” to the genre’s crowning achievement “10 Things I Hate About You” drawing its inspiration from “The Taming of the Shrew,” the famous writer has long been shaping the art of a good rom-com.

But there’s been notable gaps, not just in Shakespeare-driven films, but of any real rom-coms of substance. Most of the newest releases have been relegated to streaming networks, while the few that have hit the box office have been dry, boring and painfully devoid of any real chemistry.

But thanks to December 2023’s “Anyone But You,” the Bard — and the rom-com genre — are back in a big way.

Loosely based on Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” “Anyone But You” follows Bea (Sydney Sweeney) and Ben (Glen Powell) as they must keep their hatred for each other on a low-boil to keep from ruining their loved ones’ upcoming nuptials.

Thanks to untapped tension from a one-night encounter riddled with miscommunication, meddling family and friends and the unexpected appearances of ex-partners, Bea and Ben decide that the best way to power through is with one of the best tropes the genre has to offer: a good, old-fashioned fake dating con.

As Bea and Ben try to find a way to convince everyone they know that they’re a real couple — and aren’t completely falling apart on a personal level — the antics get higher-stakes and a whole lot more heated.

I’ll admit, I was skeptical going into the film. I’d seen clips on social media that had inadvertently made me cringe. I was afraid that “Anyone But You” would be just another 21st century rom-com write-off.

And I’ll also be the first to admit that I was wholeheartedly wrong.

Sweeney and Powell are two of the most charming movie leads that have graced the big screen in recent memory. Powell is the reigning champ of the modern rom-com — 2018’s “Set It Up” is one of the few bright exceptions of the disastrous attempts at reigniting the genre — but the film marks Sweeney’s first foray into the world of the romantic comedy.

Sweeney’s Bea is incredibly easy to root for, and the actress delivers a character riddled with complications that you actually hope finds a happy ending instead of wishing she would just call a therapist. Her performance was so enjoyable to watch that I found myself walking out of the theater with high hopes that the actress would become this decade’s Katherine Heigl or Meg Ryan.

Powell and Sweeney have the chemistry of legends, becoming the kind of scene partners that had the audience in my Sunday matinee showing audibly squealing with each new romantic development — and I will proudly admit that I was no exception.

The build-up of Bea and Ben’s will-they-or-won’t-they relationship is wholly consuming to watch. Even when the hiccups get rom-com ridiculous (the appearance of a spider on a hike leads to Ben throwing his clothes off a mountain in fear), they somehow manage to never tip into second-hand embarrassment territory.

And while it’s undeniable that the captivating leads drive the film forward, the cast is full of endearing performances. From Alexandra Shipp and Hadley Robinson as the soon-to-be-wed Claudia and Halle to Dermot Mulroney, Rachel Griffiths, Bryan Brown, Michelle Hurd and GaTa playing overinvolved parents and friends, there is no shortage of perfect comedic moments.

The dynamics between the characters — friends, siblings, lovers and parents — bring a warmth to the movie that keeps it from feeling too one-dimensional. The relationship between Bea and Ben is undeniably the heart of the movie, but seeing who they are outside of their interactions from one another makes their development throughout the film much more satisfying.

In a time when movie theaters are on the same constant rotation of biopics, indie darlings, major studios’ kids movies and action flick, a solid, good rom-com is a welcome change to the status quo of Hollywood. And with “Anyone But You” breaking box office records — the film became the most successful R-rated romantic comedy since 2016’s “Bridget Jones’ Baby,” according to Collider — hopefully this is the first step in the much-needed rom-com renaissance.

But for now, “Anyone But You” can sit comfortably as a new step in audiences’ “serenity” routine. After all, the rest is still unwritten.

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Zoe Leone
Zoe Leone, Arts & Life Editor

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