Have you seen “Set It Up” yet? It’s been a while since I’ve seen a rom-com that I loved this much. I’m not alone. When the movie came out, it set twitter on fire with people expressing their surprise and delight over this movie. It scores high on Rotten Tomatoes (89%!) and critics are saying that this is the movie that will fuel Netflix to make more original rom-coms because that’s what so many audiences want.
Director of Original Films at Netflix, Matt Brodlie, told Mashable "because we’re Netflix, we were able to see that people around the world had been watching a lot of rom-coms in our catalog and putting two and two together, people enjoy watching them, there aren’t a lot of them out there, so let’s jump in and get into this genre that seems to be really enjoyable for a lot of people."
The plot is simple. Two overworked assistants Harper (Zoey Deutch) and Charlie (Glen Powell) set up their horrible bosses Kirsten (Lucy Liu) and Rick (Taye Diggs) hoping to score some time off. As things get complicated, Harper and Charlie fall in love. It’s “The Parent Trap”, “Roxanne”, and “The Devil Wears Prada” …with pizza. (Zoey ate 4 pizzas while filming the 5$ pizza scene that felt reminiscent of “Notting Hill’s “Oopsy daisies” moment.)
You may not know the two leads Zoey Deutch (“Why Him?”) and Glen Powell (“Top Gun: Maverick”) yet, but you will.
“Set It Up” also stars the brilliant Lucy Liu and Taye Diggs who are both so funny that I was literally laughing out loud at their outrageous behavior.
“Set It Up” has everything you want from a rom-com. A charismatic leading man (who gets hotter as the movie unfolds), a quirky leading lady (who is tough underneath all that adorable earnestness), and scene-stealing side characters (of note is Meredith Hagner who plays Harper’s advice-giving BFF Becca). It is both hilarious and sweet, but not too sweet. The one-liners are fast, plentiful and smart.
Actress Zoey Deutch is so full of authentic passion in this role that it is impossible not to fall for her. She told Hello Giggles “Glen and I met while making a movie called “Everybody Wants Some”!! - The first day we met, we looked at each other square in the face, and we were like, “We have to find a rom-com to do together.” Our energy was inherently nightmarish in-person, but we could tell that maybe it would translate on the screen, that our banter and our weird sort of relationship would translate. We just knew it.” They were right. Even though Zoey had to fight hard to get this part.
“I wanted this part so badly. I thought [screenwriter] Katie Silberman wrote one of the smartest, funniest, best scripts I’d ever read in my life. And I was determined to fight my way in there, ’cause I just loved the part so much! You know, once I met Katie Silberman, the writer, I ended up pretty much stealing her for the part. I dyed my hair her color. I stole mannerisms of hers. She has a little hair tie she wears around her wrist that she always plays with on her index finger. I did that almost the whole movie. I stole her cadence, her mannerisms. I fully was a creep and a weirdo, and if you haven’t gotten already that I’m obsessed with her, here’s the truth: I’m obsessed with her. I think she’s a brilliant genius from the Heavens above.”
Zoey isn’t the only one who loves Katie. Her career is on fire. She co-produced “How to Be Single” and co-wrote two screenplays coming out in 2019. “Isn’t It Romantic” will star Liam Hemsworth, Rebel Wilson and Priyanka Chopra. “Booksmart” will be directed by Olivia Wilde and will star Kaitlyn Dever, Lisa Kudrow and Jason Sudeikis.
“Set It Up” was not only written by a woman, but it was also directed by a woman. Director Claire Scanlon has directed episodes of “GLOW”, “Brooklyn 99”, “The Mindy Project” and “The Office” just to name a few. According to Zoey “Claire was seven to nine months pregnant while we were shooting the movie. Seven to nine months! She had her baby a week after we were wrapped.”
Director Claire Scanlon told Variety ”Harper’s [Deutch] raison d’etre is not to get a boyfriend. In fact, everything that she really focuses her energy on is trying to be a good writer and worthy of working in that capacity for Kirsten [Liu]. She really loves Kirsten’s worth ethic, her quality output — she’s there for a reason, and that’s where a big chunk of her concerns and anxieties lie, not with getting a boyfriend.”
Claire looked to “When Harry Met Sally” for inspiration and to older films like “The Philadelphia Story” and “It Happened One Night”. She said “the kind of verbal repartee that you would see from films in the ‘30s and ‘40s, which I still feel like, when you go back and watch those films, it’s so fresh, it’s such witty dialogue and so well-written.”
Claire also pushed for a diverse cast. “When we were meeting with casting I was like ‘I want this to look the way it looks when I walk out the door of this building we’re having a meeting in right now.’ People of all ages, all colors, all creeds. It’s just weird how un-2018 so many films feel that are shot in New York, and that’s frustrating.”
What makes this movie really special is not just the onscreen chemistry of all four leads, the brilliant casting and an amazing script. It has those magical moments that reminded me of a John Hughes movie. There is something about Charlie’s roommate Duncan played by SNL’s Pete Davidson (who is engaged to Ariana Grande) that made me think of Duckie from “Pretty in Pink”.
There is also a rooftop party scene that has a special John Hughes’s nostalgic quality. Strangely enough, it turns out that Zoey’s father Howard Deutch actually directed “Pretty in Pink”. He also directed “Some Kind of Wonderful” starring Zoey’s mother Lea Thompson. Zoey’s parents fell in love while they were filming. Clearly, Zoey was made for rom-coms. Of her performance Vulture wrote “Fingers crossed Deutch continues making romantic comedies, because she is stellar.”
There is already talk of a sequel. The Director of Original Film at Netflix, Matt Brodlie, told Variety “The success that we’ve seen with “When We First Met” and then “Kissing Booth” and then this, it’s clear that people are hungry for this genre and enjoy watching it. They’re all chugging along in a great way — so we’re looking for more, certainly.”