Time Traveling romcom kills too many butterflies.
I’ve dealt with two fantasy comedies this year where something magical happens to a woman who goes into a tanning bed. In “Mack & Rita,” Elizabeth Lail transforms into her older self played by Diane Keaton, and in “Meet Cute,” Kaley Cuoco goes into a tanning machine, which is actually a time machine that only takes you back 24 hours ago. The owner of the machine went back in time to prevent himself from buying it, and yet, the machine is still there. Why? I don’t know.
“Meet Cute” is slightly better than “Mack & Rita.” Just slightly, because it wants to follow in a tradition of “Groundhog Day,” “Back to the Future,” “The Terminator,” and “Happy Accidents,” but it ends up acting like it doesn’t know the stakes of those films, and makes such a likable TV actress like Cuoco look nearly like Sandra Bullock’s psycho character in “All About Steve.” It starts off funny and interesting, and goes downhill really fast.
Cuoco plays Shiela, who finds this time machine, and goes back to the same bar to meet the same guy Gary (Pete Davidson).
Every recycled date, she tells him she’s from the future, and he responds “Like “Blade Runner”?” or “Do you know John Connor?” She tells him she knew him for a week, a couple of months, and eventually a whole year. She tells him these things like some kind of crazy person. Even he believes she’s crazy. At this rate, Davidson is like the male version of Maria Tomei in “Happy Accidents.”
But then it turns out this time machine can travel anywhere in the past, but only for 24 hours. And she decides to take the opportunity to change everything about her dream guy. Obviously, she’s never heard the saying: “Nobody’s perfect.”
Looking at how Cuoco handles her time travels, I went back to thinking about how Domhnall Gleeson won the heart of Rachel McAdams in “About Time.” He didn’t make stupid choices; he learned about the values of time and how he can change his life around. Sheila reveals that she’s suicidal and needs Gary to give her life meaning, but she seems too compulsive to be patient with this guy.
And a running gag is that the old Sheila has to kill the new Sheila since this time travel would give her a new version. She runs herself (I guess you could say that) over with her car. It sounds funny at first, but it ends up being mean and repetitive.
The movie’s only sweet points is when Gary accidentally spills some drinks or drops Sheila’s phone, and she responds: “It’s okay for things to be messy sometimes.” It has to center on Sheila’s unorthodox behavior, and it begins and ends with the true nature of her sadness. It acts like we’re supposed to forget about the middle. It all conservations, bantering, playful humor, and then arguments and questioning, and rewinds back again.
The better online comedy to feature Pete Davidson this year was “I Want You Back” on Amazon Prime, in which he had a small, but amazing role. “Meet Cute,” released on Peacock,” could have been sweeter and more interesting than what was presented here.
It kind make you want to go back in time to prevent yourself from seeing it.
Streaming on Peacock