ISN’T IT ROMANTIC: Rebel Wilson (PITCH PERFECT) has and likely never will fit the profile to play a lead in a Hollywood romantic comedy. The comic actress, who has a figure best described as “dumpy”, seems better suited to play the wise-cracking best friend and confidante to the female lead in films of that ilk. Think Awkwafina in CRAZY RICH ASIANS (2018). But this is in large part why she’s so perfectly cast as the actual lead in this slyly self-aware movie that skewers romantic comedies while indulging in all of their conventions and fantasy illusions. Her character is a talented but non-assertive, put-upon architect that her co-workers instinctively send out for coffee. Even her dog refuses to kiss her. But after getting “conked” on the head following a thwarted mugging, she finds herself in what Kellyanne Conway would describe as an alternate reality comprised of a world structured like a cinematic romantic comedy where handsome men with Australian accents (Liam Hemsworth) find her “beguiling”, fresh flowers abound in pink boutique laden streets in New York City and life is lived to the tune of a soundtrack by Vanessa Carlton. It’s a clever premise that occasionally has a sort of “one joke pony” element to it that causes the storyline to lag in some sequences even as it retains the kind of predictability usually brought forth in a romantic comedy. After all, you just know that the workplace associate (Adam Devine) who’s her real best friend is precisely the right person she needs to and will hook up with. And while it does happen, I’ll credit screenwriters Erin Cardillo, Dana Fox and Katie Silberman (Yes, they’re all women who get the joke about rom-coms.) for consistently injecting a real sense of fun in the story which mocks the genre and how it contrasts with real life. This is brought out by Simon Duggan’s cinematography with its’ close-ups and tight shots in the real world as opposed to the sweeping wide-angle shots in Wilson’s parallel universe where white doves fly in heart-shaped formations. I’m rather certain that the distributors had their tongues firmly in their cheeks when they decided to release this movie on a Valentine’s Day weekend. Along with an above average film, they saved us from another cinematic piece of drivel adapted from a Nicholas Sparks’ novel or (God help us.) another FIFTY SHADE OF GREY (2015) movie. CRITIC’S GRADE: B

CLOSING CREDITS: Here are some excellent movies that starred British actor Albert Finney who passed away on February 8 – THE ENTERTAINER (1960), SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY MORNING (1960), TOM JONES (1963)*, TWO FOR THE ROAD (1967), SCROOGE (1970), MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (1974)*, THE DUELLISTS (1977), WOLFEN (1981), SHOOT THE MOON (1982), THE DRESSER (1983)*, UNDER THE VOLCANO (1984)*, WASHINGTON SQUARE (1997), ERIN BROCKOVICH (2000)**, TRAFFIC (2000), BIG FISH (2003), THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM (2007), SKYFALL (2012)

*Academy Award Nomination for Best Actor

**Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actor