Imagine you’re in the following situation. You are an assistant to a fairly important person, and you wind up working way longer hours than you are supposed to, all in hopes that this person will eventually see you deserve to be doing more for them. You meet someone in a similar situation. You both want to work less, and know that your bosses are single and lonely. What do you do?
If you’re the protagonists of Set It Up, you, well, try to set them up with one another. Harper (Zoey Deutch) works for Kirsten (Lucy Liu), a sports reporter who is at the office longer than pretty much anyone. Charlie (Glen Powell) works for Rick (Taye Diggs), who … does stuff. He’s an executive of some sort. Harper and Charlie randomly meet one night, get to talking, and eventually come to the conclusion that if they can set their bosses up with each other, then they’ll have more free time for themselves. They spend most of the movie doing just that, all the while becoming closer and closer to each other.
It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon [sic] to figure out how Set It Up will play out. It’s a romantic comedy, after all, and outside of perhaps a few select examples, they play out pretty similarly to all the others. The details are what matter. Is it funny? Are the characters likable? Does it maybe have something to say about them, their actions, or love? And in this film’s case, the answers are “yes,” “yes,” and “kind of,” which is 2,5/3 check marks you want to see. Does that mean Set It Up is a successful rom-com? Yeah, I guess it is.
Let’s start with the comedy. The writing is solid, there are more than a few jokes and most of them hit, and the actors bring strong comedic timing to the screen. Deutch and Powell have strong chemistry and their dialogue exchanges are usually pretty good. Some of the more random elements are effective, too, like the couple of scenes with Tituss Burgess‘ character, or the various skits that accompany the leads’ attempts to set up their bosses.
The characters are more interesting than they might appear on the surface. They’re doing a selfish thing, but for an understandable reason. And, over the course of the film, they do grow from their experiences. That sounds like something that should logically happen all the time, but it often doesn’t, especially in romantic comedies. After all, if they have romance and some light laughs, many people won’t care about anything else. And because of that, the filmmakers don’t need to put in the effort to make money. Other genres suffer from this sort of thing, too, but rom-coms are probably the go-to example.
Sure, all it needed to do was some pretty basic stuff, but by being a likable, decently funny movie where the characters grow and don’t grate on an audience, Set It Up has become a decent Netflix Original Movie. It’s not annoying or dull, it’s got a good cast, its heart is usually in the right place, it has a good amount of laughs, and it looks even better by comparison to many of the other Netflix movies. It’s incredibly predictable, but I had fun with it.
Conclusion: Set It Up is a predictable but fun movie.
Recommendation: You like rom-coms? Watch Set It Up. You don’t like rom-coms? You might like Set It Up anyway, actually. It’s pleasant.