Tuesday, 21 May 2024

‘Anyone But You’ formulaic rom-com; ‘Natalia Grace’ on ID TV


Hardly a novel idea emanates from the romantic comedy tropes that turn “Anyone But You” into an artificial reimagining of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” where wit and banter have much to do with romantic deception, intrigue and trickery.

Nor is anyone going to think about one of the all-time greats of this genre in 1934’s “It Happened One Night,” a screwball romantic comedy in which Claudette Colbert’s married socialite falls for Clark Gable’s recently fired newspaper reporter.

The mismatched lovers in “Anyone But You” are Glen Powell’s Ben, a finance guy, and Sydney Sweeney’s Bea, a law school student who’s ambivalent at best about a career path of a lawyer.

On a superficial level, Powell (“Top Gun: Maverick”) and Sweeney (TV’s “Euphoria”) are the type of photogenic beautiful people with a screen presence that practically screams for attention.

They first meet in a most serendipitous way at an upscale coffee shop thanks to the snippy attitude of a barista who won’t let frantic Bea use the bathroom without first having made a purchase.

Standing in a long line is Ben, who comes to the rescue by pretending to be Bea’s husband. This is followed by an amusing malfunction in the restroom, leading to a return to Ben’s place for grilled cheese sandwiches and a night spent together.

While the pair fall asleep on the couch fully clothed, the next morning Bea slips away without so much as a goodbye. Ben’s best friend Pete (GaTa) shows up and the jilted Ben makes disparaging remarks about his date that Bea happens to overhear after she decides to return moments later.

What should have been the start of a relationship turns sour with misunderstanding by both parties. Six months later, the two meet again at a bar under awkward circumstances, not knowing they would soon be linked to an upcoming wedding.

Pete’s sister Claudia (Alexandra Shipp) is marrying Bea’s sister Halle (Hadley Robinson). The wedding is going to take place at the exotically beautiful locale of a beachfront estate in Sydney, Australia.

The fun begins when Ben and Bea are stuck on the same long plane ride to Australia. They can’t resist sniping at each other, the result being that their banter takes a rancorous tone with no sign of abating.

The Shakespearean twist takes hold at the gathering of friends and family in Australia. Everyone comes to the conclusion that they are former lovers who can’t abide each other. A scheme begins to get them back together so that the wedding won’t be marred by their acrimony.

Bea’s parents Leo (Dermot Mulroney) and Innie (Rachel Griffiths) add some fuel to the fire by inviting Bea’s ex-boyfriend Jonathan (Darren Barnet) to the wedding, hoping to rekindle the relationship.

However, Ben and Bea decide to play along as a couple so that her parents will stop meddling, and then Ben’s former flame Margaret (Charlee Fraser) happens to be part of the wedding party. Margaret’s presence just adds another complication on the jealousy side.

There are some humorous moments to enjoy. A better one might be how the younger guests on a hike pay attention to a cute koala bear in a tree while ignoring Ben stripping naked as he yanks off all his clothes when a tarantula ends up in his shorts.

The failing of “Anyone But You,” regardless of its gorgeous setting, is that Ben and Bea arguably lack the convincing chemistry to seal the deal for true romance. With the glistening beauty of Sydney and its beaches on display, the winner here is the local tourism board.


Earlier this year, ID TV’s documentary “The Curious Case of Natalia Grace” was a stranger-than-fiction series that explored the question of whether Natalia Grace Barnett was an exploited Ukrainian adopted child with dwarfism or a dangerous adult masquerading as an adolescent.

This real-life story mirrored the horror film “Orphan” in which a couple trying to rebuild their marriage after the loss of their baby decide to adopt a child who turns out to be a psychopath with dwarfism and a mysterious past.

Beginning on Jan. 1, “The Curious Case of Natalia Grace: Natalia Grace” retraces her adoption saga and the Barnett family’s allegations about her real age when she was adopted.

The series will showcase an emotional sit-down between Natalia and adoptive father Michael Barnett as they come to terms with the accusations that have been thrown around in both directions.

“Natalia Speaks” may offer insight into what really went on behind closed doors in the Barnetts’ home and how much truth there actually is to their claim Natalia was not a 6-year-old Ukrainian orphan with a rare genetic disorder, but rather a homicidal adult intent on harming them.

Previously unseen evidence and footage, as well as new theories and testimony from an array of voices, including the FBI agents who investigated the case, will shed light on the case.

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.

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