Rebel Wilson (middle) stars as Natalie, alongside Adam Devine (left) as her earnest best friend, Josh, and Priyanka Chopra (right) as yoga ambassador Isabella. (Photos courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)

LOOKING for a movie to watch with your significant other, group of friends, or even alone this Valentine’s weekend?

Romantic comedy “Isn’t It Romantic,” which hit theaters on Valentine’s Day, is sure to conjure some (or a lot of) laughs as it satirizes all the tropes found in rom-com favorites.

Film stars Priyanka Chopra (who plays Isabella) and Adam Devine (who plays Josh) spoke with the Asian Journal ahead of the release about why this rom-con is heartwarming and a breath of fresh air amidst the negativity.

“It’s one of those feel-good movies and I think the world needs that right now. There’s so much that we see and a lot that happens in this world that does bring you down,” Chopra told the Asian Journal. “This is an uplifting movie and you don’t have to overthink it — it’s just super fun.”

The movie centers around Natalie (Rebel Wilson of the “Pitch Perfect” films), a career-driven New York architect who grew up watching romantic comedies but is now cynical about love — even mocking her assistant Whitney (Betty Gilipin) for watching rom-coms at her desk and listing out all the ways those films get real-life wrong (i.e. the lead is quirky and clumsy and all women are enemies in the work place).

During presentations Natalie is mistaken as an assistant who delivers coffee and has a hard-time attracting the attention of the opposite sex…or so she thinks, as she subconsciously keeps “work husband” and not-so-secret admirer Josh (Devine) in the friend zone. Of his character, Devine said he got into playing a thoughtful, ‘sweetheart,’ which contrasts his usual R-rated, edgier projects.

However, like any rom-com arch, this world quickly changes, all because of a subway mugging that leaves Natalie unconscious in the hospital. Upon waking up, she is greeted by a handsome doctor and walks out clad in a chic outfit into a tidy, flower-scented New York City.

She becomes the leading lady of her own rom-com where men smile and approach her on the street, her shoebox apartment is now a glamorous bachelorette pad with a gorgeous view of the Hudson River and a walk-in closet, her unbrushed dog becomes prim and groomed, and formerly anti-social neighbor Donny (Brandon Scott Jones) is her gay sidekick whose life revolves around hers.

When Natalie gets to her office, Whitney is no longer her assistant but her work nemesis. Wealthy client Blake (Liam Hemsworth) is a romantic interest — never mind that he completely ignored her in a meeting the day before pre-concussion. Josh has his eyes set on someone else, a charming model and yoga ambassador named Isabella (Chopra) whom he saves from a choking attack in Central Park. (We first encounter Chopra on a giant billboard outside Natalie’s office window).

“There’s no such thing as a yoga ambassador — yoga cannot have an ambassador and doesn’t need one,” explains Chopra with a laugh during our interview. “She is the daughter of rich parents, spoiled, sort of living life in her terms and has never been said ‘no’ to. She gets insecure and falls in love, but is still really a nice girl.”

As Natalie navigates this fuzzy rom-com world that feeds into the stereotypes of everything that women supposedly want, things, of course, start to get complicated. She realizes that Blake, despite his wealth and attractiveness, is not the one for her and must stop Josh’s impending and rushed marriage to Isabella because she’s the one who he should be with.

“I thought about how to make [Isabella] an asset in the plot and leaning into that instead of it being a cat fight with Natalie,” Chopra said. “It’s about the emotional feeling when two girls have feelings for the same guy.”

Like all rom-com classics, there is the moment of clarity and realization that the person you should be loving is yourself.

“When you’re single, you don’t want to go out, meet anyone, and feel depressed… our validation depends on someone else when the most important relationship you need to have is with yourself,” Chopra added. “I know that’s easier said than done. But as soon as you recognize that you’re not opening yourself up to the world, love doesn’t happen — you just have to open your heart to the world and the rest comes, at least that’s in my experience.”

Without giving away too many spoilers, along the way, a fun karaoke scene set to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” shows off the cast’s singing chops as well.

“Rebel and I really clicked right back into our ‘Pitch Perfect’ days. Priyanka has done like 50 Bollywood movies and that’s what they do in Bollywood movies, breaking out into song and dance. She was such a pro at that so it was really a fun day… or actually two days on set,” Devine said.

There’s another musical treat to end the movie that you’ll just have to see for yourself.

“Doing a big dance number in the middle of New York City with the cast and back-up dancers was very reminiscent of what I do in my Indian movies and it was just so much fun. I was completely at home,” shared Chopra, who still maintains her career in India and is set to release another Bollywood film later this year.

Devine added that “people are going to leave singing and dancing out of the theater.”

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“Isn’t It Romantic,” presented by New Line Cinema in association with Bron Creative, a Broken Road/Little Engine Production, is rated PG-13 and runs for 1 hour 28 minutes.

Todd Strauss-Schulson (“A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas,” “The Final Girls”) directs from a screenplay by Erin Cardillo and Dana Fox & Katie Silberman. Todd Garner (“Paul Blart: Mall Cop,” “Tag”), Gina Matthews and Grant Scharbo (“13 Going on 30,” “What Women Want”) are producing, with Marty Ewing (“IT,” “The Accountant”) and Rebel Wilson executive producing.

Released in the U.S. on Feb. 14, it is distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures and streamed on Netflix on Feb. 28 in all territories outside of the U.S. and Canada.  

Christina M. Oriel
Christina M. Oriel

Christina M. Oriel is the Managing Editor of the Asian Journal Weekly Newspapers.

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