Lovers and haters of the romantic comedy, rejoice! There's finally a movie that appeals to both sides of the age-old debate. Rebel Wilson's Isn't It Romantic is the "anti-rom-com rom-com," according to the Australian actor, as the satire skewers romantic comedy tropes and stereotypes while still telling a happy, life-affirming story about romantic love. Filming the comedy actually had some unintended consequences for her co-stars and for Wilson herself, including some new career aspirations.
But before we get to discussing how her new film, out Feb. 13, has her gunning for reality TV show stardom, Wilson is getting comfortable next to her Isn't It Romantic co-star Priyanka Chopra. Since they've just wrapped their on-camera interviews, both women are kicking off their shoes and putting their feet up on the coffee table in between us in a room on the top floor of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, posing (or rather, anti-posing) for a friend who snaps of a photo of them in full relaxation mode. It's clearly been a long day, but the actors haven't lost any of their enthusiasm about the movie, which follows a cynical woman named Natalie (Wilson) who endures a head injury and wakes up as the leading lady of her own rom-com.
"The comedy in the film is a bit reminiscent of how in like the musical The Book of Mormon, it takes some jabs at the Mormon religion but at the end of the day is not at all a negative depiction of that religion," Wilson tells me. "So here with rom-coms, in the past I never used to like them. I was like, 'Oh my god, that would never happen in real life. This movie is so boring, not funny enough.' But then now, my heart is a bit more open, very similar to my character in the film."
Wilson's stomach audibly rumbles, she and Chopra, who plays model and "yoga ambassador" Isabella, look at each other and laugh. It's like a scene right out of the movie — on the surface and from the outside, these press junkets seem glamorous. But when you take a look deeper, beneath the glossy veneer, you start to see the reality of what it takes for actors to be charming and entertaining all day long. They're tired, their feet are sore, and they haven't had a real meal in far too long. But there's still something to be said for the fantasy.
"God, I love them now," Wilson says of rom-coms, with a big smile. "I loved Crazy Rich Asians last year. I'm desperate for all this romantic stuff now. I'm even watching The Bachelor now!"
"I'm so glad you've come to the other side," Chopra tells her. "It makes me so happy."
"I have!" Wilson continues. "The Pitch Perfect girls used to talk about that show all the time and I was like, 'Ew, as if I'd watch that.' And now I need to watch it immediately. I honestly did not think I'd be this person. I thought I would be the person making fun of it. But now I want to be the Australian Bachelorette."
Both Chopra and I can't immediately tell if Wilson is serious, but then she clarifies.
"They couldn't afford me though. I said my price was $20 million to do it. But I would do it. I would totally do it."
"I would watch that!" Chopra adds. "They would make a lot of money off of that."
Unlike her co-star, Chopra has always loved romantic comedies, so when the script for Isn't It Romantic came to her, she was immediately intrigued. Production on the movie fell in between of Seasons 2 and 3 of her ABC spy drama Quantico, and she loved how it let her be "feminine" in all the ways her TV character isn't.
"Since I'm a rom-com lover I was literally like, 'Ay, don't try and mess with or call out rom-coms!'" Chopra says. "I was afraid. 'Don't screw it up for me.' But when I read the script, it's so clever because for people who are cynical like, 'Oh, that will never happen in a movie,' or, 'That will only happen in a romantic comedy,' this caters to you too."
"I was pretty indifferent about rom-coms," Adam Devine, who plays Natalie's bestie Josh, tells me later, in a suite one floor down. "But then you look at a lot of my favorite movies and you're like, 'I guess The Wedding Singer is a rom-com!' I didn't even put that together because I'm a dumbo."
"I didn't know that I was watching a romantic comedy as a 13-year-old boy," he says of the Adam Sandler movie. Even if he knew, the actor says, he probably wouldn't have broadcast it to his peers. "At least not when I was 13. It took me growing up to realize that it was a full-on romantic comedy that I loved — the world has changed enough now that 13-year-olds of any gender can get on board with romantic comedies."
Though he's changed his mind on the genre, Devine adds that during the late '90s and early '00s, Hollywood was "just churning out rom-coms, and they all ended up kind of doing the same things." That's why he's such a fan of Isn't It Romantic — it calls out and subverts all those problematic and unrealistic tropes you'll recognize, like the gay best friend who doesn't seem to have a life outside of supporting the protagonist, New York City appearing beautiful and whimsical instead of dark and dirty, gorgeous palatial apartments that characters could never afford on their salaries, and more.
But there's more than just parody in Isn't It Romantic, there's homage too. The actor promises that fans could find "literally 100 Easter eggs in this movie," like references to "When Harry Met Sally and The Proposal." Devine's favorite moment is one that all rom-com lovers — and movie buffs — will recognize. "I did a scene where I'm eating soup dumplings and I'm acting like I'm having an orgasm like Meg Ryan," he reveals before then mimicking those exact noises loudly.
So Isn't It Romantic led Devine to discover a new talent and Wilson to pine for Bachelorette stardom. How will it change you? Find out when it hits theaters on Feb. 13.