Set it Up (4.5 Stars)
Released in 2018, Set it Up is a delightfully refreshing take on the romantic comedy blueprint that breathes life into this well-worn genre. The story follows two corporate executive assistants (Zoey Deutch and Glen Powell) as they attempt to play match maker with their respective bosses (Lucy Liu and Taye Diggs), and in the process create more free time in their own lives.
The film soars on the charm and chemistry of Zoey Deutch and Glen Powell in the headliner roles. Deutch exudes energy as a fast-talking, slightly insecure assistant who dreams to one day become a writer like her boss. She incorporates a great deal of body language and occasionally walks the line of going over the top, but always manages to reel herself back in with a splendid portrayal that captures the different shades of this layered individual. Powell is equally fantastic, playing off Deutch’s high energy with a more reserved demeanor. Facial expressions, body language, and excellent timing allow him to be very humorous, as well as sincere when needed. These are two stars on the rise that truly embody acting not just in what they say, but how they say it, both verbally and nonverbally. The result is two fully fleshed out and relatable characters in the central roles that make for a more enjoyable viewing. Lucy Liu and Taye Diggs are much less complex, but provide strong supporting work as ancillary pieces, never hogging the spotlight, or distracting from the true leads. Additionally, Pete Davidson is superb in a scene stealing role as Powell’s roommate, elevating every scene he is a part of.
While the performances are by far the strongest components of this film, they are not the only successful ones. A great soundtrack and strong screenplay are able to further add to the overall enjoyment level. The script does follow a lot of the classic beats seen before in movie romances, yet finds a way to reinvent them, providing a fresh new take on the format. The pacing suffers slightly at some points in an effort to rush to the next key moment, and probably would have benefitted from exceeding it’s brisk 1 hour and 45-minute runtime, but these are minor criticisms of a plot that works quite well.
Overall, Set it Up is a workplace romantic comedy that has it all. The intelligent script will keep the audience entertained throughout with fun set pieces and witty back and forth conversations, all while it builds towards a terrific climax. When coupled with some thoroughly engaging performances, the result is a modern classic for the genre.