This New Rom-Com With Emma Roberts & Hayden Christensen Has Major '00s Vibes

by Nathan Diller

In the midst of what could be described as a stressful, overwhelming, and pretty chaotic year, one rom-com is here to take us back to simpler times. In the first trailer for Little Italy, starring Emma Roberts and Hayden Christensen, it's clear the romantic comedy genre is alive and well, and the movie is bringing the 2000s back in a major way.

The film was directed by Donald Petri, who also helmed the early 2000s classics How to Lose a Guy In 10 Days and Miss Congeniality, and stars Roberts as Nikki Angioli, a chef working abroad who must return to America to take care of visa problems when her boss offers her a promotion. Reluctantly, Nikki returns to her hometown of Little Italy, where her family owns a pizza restaurant and "nothing changes." But while visiting, she reconnects with Leo Campo, played by Christensen, whose parents own a rival cafe. One thing leads to another, and she falls for the one guy she's not supposed to.

At its heart, Little Italy, which also stars Jane Seymour, Alyssa Milano, Andrea Martin, and Danny Aiello, is a tale of forbidden love between two rival families. In the preview for the movie, while making pizza together from scratch, Nikki tells Leo, "My father would consider this the highest form of treason." Leo asks, "What's that? The pizza or us being together?" to which she replies, "Both." The pair are also seen riding a Vespa around town, and playfully trying on hats and sunglasses at an outdoor market. And, in one romantic clip guaranteed to have people gushing, Leo climbs up a ladder to Nikki's window to bring her a pizza (swoon). All that's missing is a last-minute dash to the airport to stop a plane from leaving to make this rom-com complete.

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight published on Friday, Roberts said she was thrilled to be making a family-friendly rom-com. "It's about family, it's about food, it's about love. It is a romantic comedy, which I was so excited when I got the script because I love romantic comedies so much and I feel like I don't see them as much as I would like to." Fans will remember that one of Roberts' major roles post-Unfabulous was in the hit rom-com Valentine's Day, so she knows what she's talking about.

And Little Italy isn't the only rom-com helping to revive the genre. While they ruled supreme for a long time, with movies like 1987's Overboard to 2003's Love Actually, in the past decade or so, romantic comedies have largely disappeared from theaters. However, in 2018, romantic comedies appear to be aiming for a comeback. Netflix's Set It Up, which was released in June, became a surprise hit and, along with other flicks like When We First Met and The Kissing Booth, solidified viewer demand for the rom-com.

Set It Up director, Calire Scanlon told Variety in June that one of they keys to making a rom-com in 2018 was depicting the characters in a more realistic and dynamic way, particularly working women, which Little Italy features prominently. Of Set It Up's female protagonist Harper, played by Zoey Deutch, she said, "She's a three-dimensional person with more than just 'I need a boyfriend' which I think also resonates in today’s time."

Matt Brodlie, director of original film at Netflix, also told the publication that they're interested in producing more films like Set It Up. "The success that we've seen with When We First Met and then Kissing Booth and then this, it's clear that people are hungry for this genre and enjoy watching it," he said. "They're all chugging along in a great way — so we’re looking for more, certainly."

While Set It Up might be reviving the rom-com at Netflix, hopefully Little Italy will be able to boost the genre on the big screen.