Meet Cute, a grating Peacock romcom starring Kaley Cuoco and Pete Davidson, dives straight right into a traditional story: boy meets woman at a New York bar – or, extra particularly, woman eyes boy intensely from one finish of the bar, asks him for a drink and appears to know what he’ll say earlier than he says it. Cuoco’s perky Sheila and Davidson’s Gary, diffident and a bit raveled, change rhythmic banter. A few sarcastic, too-mannered barbs later, they’re off on a strong New York first date: dinner at East Village staple Panna II Backyard, dessert at an ice cream truck, a ferry experience, thrift purchasing, beers at a polka bar, nightcap stroll alongside the East River.
Alongside the best way, Sheila reveals the catch: their meet-cute appears to glide on air as a result of they’ve practiced a number of occasions. She’s a time traveler from 24 hours sooner or later, operating again the magic of their first date many times. Sheila packages every information dump as flirty time-travel function play, a bit for the unwitting Gary to pitch again that rapidly grows stale. As onerous as Cuoco and Davidson attempt at chemistry – and Cuoco, a minimum of, appears to be actually making an attempt – this umpteenth spin on the Groundhog Day time loop is extra irksome than endearing, cutesy than truly cute, a downward spiral of uncomfortably carried out neuroticism that devolves right into a borderline indefensible ending. Palm Springs, this isn’t.
It doesn’t assist that the primary third of the film, written by Noga Pnueli and directed by Alex Lehmann, does little to change the scope or stakes of Sheila and Gary’s repetitive date. Sheila, who we be taught was suicidal till she discovered the time machine (telegraphed by smudged eyeliner, in fact, and her proclamation that she desires to kill herself) goes again in time by way of a tanning mattress at a nondescript nail salon run by deadpan manicurist June (Deborah S Craig.) She runs her outdated self over with a automotive. She goes to Gary’s bar in the identical yellow gingham gown, differentiated by slight coiffure modifications. (That is clearly a Covid-era film, with few costume modifications, two most important indoor units, and lots of scenes set outdoors.) She unsuccessfully tries to clarify the loop to Gary with out freaking him out, which is the pure response to somebody endlessly operating again a primary date as a result of “you’re the one particular person to make me really joyful ever”.
Cuoco and Davidson, delivering his greatest aw-shucks shrugs, will not be dangerous actors; they construct up a small reservoir of affection over the primary half of this 80-minute movie. However that’s squandered within the latter half by Sheila’s more and more irredeemable habits and the movie’s dealing with of her psychological well being disaster. Extra particularly, Sheila, whom Cuoco overplays with wide-eyed, manic power, begins messing with Gary’s childhood to optimize his grownup self. Worse, as Gary begins to subconsciously catch on to Sheila’s determined and futile makes an attempt to freeze time, Meet Cute doubles down on her gestures towards suicide; I watched with gritted tooth as the ultimate act introduced the romcom stakes as reconciliation with Gary or leaping off a bridge. It’s insensitive at greatest, an inexpensive try at character depth.
There’s an intriguing thread someplace in right here about unrequited obsession that has extra do to with insecurities than precise love, about how despair can result in intense, sticky fixations which are tough to give up. This isn’t a sensible sufficient movie to try this, nor one as edgy because it appears to suppose it’s. It’s competently directed – New York appears like New York, gritty and infinitely open. The traces should’ve labored on the web page, and typically echo actual flirtation. However well-timed rapport isn’t an alternative to appeal, nor sufficient to justify this empty loop.