Director: Claire Scanlon
Screenplay: Katie Silberman
Starring: Zoey Deutch, Glen Powell, Taye Diggs, Lucy Liu
Runtime: 105 Minutes
Considering the genuine lack of romantic comedy films being released in theatres this year (at least in the conventionally generic of terms), Netflix certainly has that base more than covered. Set It Up is the latest of several rom-coms to be released this year on the service, and arguably it's best offering so far even if it only just makes it by the end.
It’s a traditionally structured setup of two underpaid, overworking assistants Harper (Zoey Deutch) and Charlie Young (Glen Powell) who hatch a plan to match-make their two bosses Kirsten and Rick (Lucy Liu and Taye Diggs) in order to get them off their backs. There’s enough to its premise to mine some decent gags and situations, even if the staggered pacing of it spends a little too much time repeating itself and falling back on lazy observations at the expense of stereotypes, and in one incredibly misjudged scene large black people.
But actors Deutch and Powell – working together again after Everybody Wants Some!! – bring their A-game and manage to make their characters cute and fun to watch with natural trappings even when their characters come across as a little rote. Liu and Diggs are pretty much the same, but while Diggs grates with over-the-top flamboyance, Liu ops to underplay in what turns out to be a surprising depiction of an ageing career woman who might have actually found peace with herself if it wasn’t for the circumstances that got her there.
It starts pretty wonkily but when you’ve spent enough time with it, Set It Up kind of works on its own terms with some unexpectedly engaging third act drama and even some knowing fun at the expense of genre clichés such as the race to the airport for a declarative statement of love. It’s flatly directed and more than a little enraptured by its two lead characters, but the cast work and it has its charms even if it’s a little too long by the end.