Look Both Ways

One side is better than the other.

Here’s the concept of Netflix’s new romcom “Look Both Ways.”

We meet Natalie (Lili Reinhart from “Hustlers”), who is on the verge of graduating from the University of Austin, and has big dreams with her best friend Cara (Aisha Dee) in Los Angeles. Natalie plans to go into animation, while Cara wants to go into advertising.

We then see Nat being divided in two parallel universes: one in which she becomes pregnant, and the other when she lives her dreams. I’ve almost always been interested in how movies present themselves in different realities, and there are aspects of “Look Both Ways” that I liked and aspects that I’ve grown tired of.

Let’s travel to the first reality. Natalie finds out she’s in pregnant with her would-be musician friend Gabe’s (Danny Ramirez from “Top Gun: Maverick”) baby, and decides to have it. That means her plans have to be placed on the back burner. Her parents (Luke Wilson and Andrea Savage) are appalled beyond words, considering that they had big dreams of their own. And after they have their baby, Gabe suggests that he and Nat become a couple, but she can’t risk that.

And now, let’s travel to the reality when she and Cara are both free as birds. She has trouble finding a job, until Jake (David Corenswet, who sounds like Zachary Levi), a guy she meets at a party, hooks her up with an interview with the animation genius Lucy (Nia Long). Lucy is a jerky boss who prefers her coffee over Nat’s ideas, while Jake is the kind, handsome man who has a 5-year-plan in the film industry.

Both sides show the main heroine getting herself into animation. The LA side has her being shut down by her new boss, while the young motherhood shows how patience would eventually get her back into these cute drawings. Both these sides give the chance to shine, one becomes a short film selected for the SXSW film festival and the other becomes a comic. And these drawings are more interesting and delightful than the ones displayed in the doc “My Old School.”

Reinhart gives a likable performance in both aspects in the ways she adapts to the LA world and her entrance towards motherhood. But both sides of the movie have to feature her in her downsides, which seem tedious. In the motherhood side, her parents have to be appalled she come scrawling back to them, and she would disapprove of her baby daddy’s new girlfriend. And in the LA side, she has to deal with the mean boss and have the romantic turning point.

There’s also some fine work from Ramirez, Corenswet, and Dee in their respective ways of bringing out the best of the main heroine. They’re all sweet and they all connect well with Reinhart, but they still have to deal with the cliches in the story.

“Look Both Ways” has its heart in the right place as we see how both realities pay off on the same subject: animation. There are moments of the movie that I liked and moments I could do without. It’s conflicting, but it has potential. One thing can lead to another in multiple universes. It doesn’t matter how; it just does.

Rating: 2.5 out of 4.

Streaming on Netflix

Categories: comedy, Drama, Romance

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