Done Dirty Down Under: Charming Leads of “Anyone But You” Trapped in Australia and Bad Script Together

The song “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield plays a supporting sonic part in Will Gluck’s romantic comedy Anything But You (C), which is fitting as the film feels so unwritten one might be surprised to find it wasn’t actually authored by AI. The two leads, Bea (Sydney Sweeney) and Ben (Glen Powell), despise one another and are stuck on a destination wedding holiday together in Sydney, Australia where they have to “fake it till they make it” to keep the peace. Occasional spurts of amusing physical comedy plus exasperating shifts in motivation keep the proceedings consistently uneven. After watching the movie, I read it was based on Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing (oh, Beatrice and Benedick and lots of overheard conversations!), which makes the lack of creativity in the formulaic, circuitous script even more dumbfounding. But the real feature here is the preternaturally attractive and charming lead couple at the heart of the movie; both give their all – bronze bodies, snappy come-ons and comebacks – to propel the paltry plot. Otherwise the film wastes both rom-com veterans such as Dermot Mulroney and Rachel Griffiths as well as its exotic port of call; there’s a scene in which hikers look over what’s supposed to be a gorgeous view of a valley,  but it’s a quite unremarkable view of basic treetops.  Because somehow, despite their unmotivated actions, we still find ourselves rooting for Sweeney and Powell; and the movie gets a little better, a little more loose and limber, toward the end. It’s all a bit of a voyeuristic dirty window into a charismatic screen couple in need of better agents.

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