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Anyone But You: More Com than Rom

by Yasmine Kaplan

Unlike many people, I put off watching Anyone But You for as long as I could. I wasn’t dying to see another overly cynical heroine fall for a soulless protagonist whose personality would completely transform post a dramatic second-act breakup. To me, nothing can beat the quintessential rom-coms produced in the 90s and early 2000s. The feeling that I get every time I watch When Harry Met Sally or How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days is irreplaceable.


Yet, it’s this everlasting success that so many try to replicate, flooding our screens with new rom-coms every year. While some of them, like Crazy Rich Asians, successfully accomplished this feat, most end up getting lost inZ the flood of new productions each year. Little did I know that, on top of actually enjoying the movie, watching Anyone But You would end up leading me to discover the secret recipe that all good rom-coms ultimately follow. 

My initial reaction to the announcement of Anyone But You coming out was to ignore it. Despite it being a rom-com, admittedly one of my favorite genres, I didn’t find the initially presented storyline to be enough of a draw. The trailer revealed enough of the movie for me to feel that it was unnecessary to block out an hour and forty-three minutes of my precious winter break time and watch any more of it.

Upon coming back to Duke and seeing countless gossip columns and advertisements sing the praises of Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell’s chemistry, I finally succumbed to the pressure and begrudgingly watched it, and I can now wholeheartedly say that I’m so glad I did.


In my opinion, it is incredibly difficult for modern rom-coms to measure up to the golden standards that past iconic movies have left behind. What I appreciated the most about it was the fact that it didn’t try to replicate that nostalgic feeling. It very much maintained a modern feeling without relying on the extensive use of social media or emoji-riddled text messages.


After a classic meet cute, main characters Bea and Ben go out on what seems to be the perfect first date. It ends far different than how it began, leaving them at odds with one another. When they find out they are both going to be attending a small destination wedding in Australia, they decide to pretend to be a couple in order to avoid ruining the big day. The classic fake dating trope played out much better than I expected.


The movie definitely had some scenes that were uncomfortable/rather embarrassing to watch. One notable example is when Bea contorted herself to dry the crotch of her pants under a hand dryer by balancing on top of a sink. While this scene lasted roughly five more minutes than necessary, it most certainly wasn’t the worst of it. The most notorious scene (aka the one that initially stopped me from watching it) occurred when the characters went on a group hike. In a ‘necessary’ attempt to convince others of their relationship, Bea and Ben quite literally rubbed each other’s backsides for what felt like forever. This was followed by an unnecessary pant throwing moment and clothing swap.


Don’t get me wrong - those scenes were excruciatingly painful to watch. Taken as a whole, however, the movie redeemed itself and more. In my opinion, the chemistry that matters the most in any good rom-com is the dynamic that exists between all the characters – not just the love interests. Each character interaction radiated a warm dynamic, connecting with the audience through a feeling of familiarity. These realistic on-screen relationships helped me form more of a connection to the film and the actors as a whole. 


The ultimate key to a successful rom-com is striking a balance between its romantic and comedic aspects. Often, a movie is coined too cheesy, despite having compelling acting, simply because it relies too heavily on romance (something that can be a little unrelatable for some of us). 


Watching this movie inspired me to go into hibernation and rewatch an unhealthy number of my all time favorite rom-coms. In addition to reminding me why I love laying in my bed all day with minimal human interaction, watching these movies back to back made me notice a previously underrated pattern. In fact, I truly believe I’ve cracked the code to a movie’s success. 


The key to a good rom com is ensuring the comedy outweighs the romance. This might sound overly critical, but the minute romance becomes the central part of the plot, all good acting and character development falls to the wayside. Character’s personalities and intelligence can also sometimes entirely disappear. With the characters’ expert comedic remarks and the overall ironic tone, Anyone But You embodies the perfect ratio of rom and com - aka an overwhelming amount of ‘com’ to drown out some of the embarrassingly, underwhelming rom.  

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