Directed by: Claire Scanlon
Starring: Zoey Deutch, Glen Powell, Lucy Liu, Pete Davidson, Taye Diggs
WRITTEN BY ELENA MORGAN
Harper (Zoey Deutch) and Charlie (Glen Powell) are two stressed out assistants who each have a high maintenance boss, sports reporter Kristen (Lucy Liu) and business mogul Rick (Taye Diggs). When they decide to play matchmaker on their two work-crazy bosses, maybe they can spread some romance and get their freedom.
A good rom-com is built on the chemistry of its leads and Deutch and Powell have it in spades. While the main story is getting Kirsten and Rick together, we all know that Harper and Charlie are who we’re really rooting for. What makes their relationship so great is that you see it grow from slight mistrust and sassy one-liners to a real solid friendship with the hints of something more. Both Deutch and Powell have great comedic timing as well, Deutch is almost overflowing with charisma while Powell’s physical comedy is hilarious.
‘Set It Up’ manages to poke fun at rom-com cliches without being ashamed of them, and in fact, it full on embraces them at times. The witty script keeps the antics coming as Harper and Charlie conspire to keep Kristen and Rick together but still leaves time to flesh out the lives of its leads.
Harper and Charlie both have lives outside of work and separate from one another, making them more well-rounded characters. Charlie is dating a model, and his roommate Duncan (Pete Davidson) offers sarcastic but fair commentary on Charlie’s life – when he doesn’t have a guy over that is. Harper’s an aspiring writer and when her best friend gets engaged, she has the very relatable gut reaction of “We’re not old enough to get married.” Their friends push the plot forward and are there to give the leads encouragement without being either annoying nor pointless.
‘Set It Up’ is a modern rom-com in many ways. It never belittles the fact that Kristen has prioritised her career over having a husband/kids, it sees Charlie encouraging Harper’s aspirations and while Harper is clearly stressed out by Kirsten’s demands, it’s clear she admires her and everything she’s achieved.
There’s probably more to say about the somewhat problematic racial dynamics of ‘Set It Up’ but I don’t have the nuance for it. But be aware Diggs’s Rick is a very angry man who frequently wrecks his office when things don’t go his way. Also, while Kristen is a surprisingly layered character, the film doesn’t exactly show off Lucy Liu’s talents.
That being said, ‘Set It Up’ is a funny and charming rom-com. While its runtime could’ve been a bit shorter, the snappy script and the great cast makes it a very enjoyable film that shows how good romantic comedies can be.