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  • Writer's pictureSkyla Clarke

How Does Anyone But You Compare to Other Rom-Coms of the 21st Century?

Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield has been stuck in my head since Boxing Day. It’s a good song, but given that it was released in 2004 its popularity may come as a surprise to many—but not to those who have watched the recently released rom-com Anyone But You. Those who have, know it hits different. Anyone But You has been reviewed as one of the best rom-coms that has been released since the 2000s. Some claim the movie is the “best rom-com since How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” or even the “best rom-com of the century”. But how does it really stack up against those other rom-coms that we know and love? 


Anyone But You follows two ex-lovers on a trip of forced proximity to Sydney. Bea, played by Euphoria star Sydney Sweeny, is an aspiring lawyer whose life is kind of falling apart. She travels to Sydney to watch her sister get married to one of Ben’s close friends. Ben, played by Top Gun Maverick actor Glen Powell, is a cunning and rather mysterious character, who is working on getting back together with his ex, Margaret. In order to solve their problems and try to restore peace within the house (which is vacated by the entire wedding party) they stage a fake relationship. And I think we all know how that’s going to end. 


However, despite the fact that this rom-com follows one of the most basic, cliche storyline ever, there were many elements that kept viewers engaged. There were funny moments, moments of sheer awkwardness and the inclusion of the catchy song Unwritten boosted the mood of the whole movie. It’s easy to understand why people would be quick to jump to the opinion that Anyone But You is one of the best rom-coms of this century, due to the drought of decent movies of the sort for years. In my opinion, the last great rom-com that was produced was What’s Your Number starring Chris Evans and Anna Faris in 2011. After that, there has been nothing but cringey, low-budget Netflix rom-coms that just make me wonder what went so wrong. 


Well, the golden era of rom-coms had seemingly come to an end after 2011, with the exception of Crazy Rich Asians and a few other films. But what made the quality early 2000s-style rom-coms disappear? Firstly, rom-coms had reached their peak in cinemas by the end of 2010—it was all downhill from there. People had started to lose interest in rom-coms at that time, as they continued to use the same basic plot for almost every movie, and because there were bigger and better movies being presented on screen at the same time. Big blockbuster films like those from Marvel were bringing home millions more than the rom-coms at the time, and so Hollywood began to favour the production of these movies that were high in expense, and also high in return. Therefore rom-coms started to die out because of the lack of profit they produced.


That’s where another issue comes in. The popularity of these movies that had been produced in great quality started to overshadow the production of the cheaper rom-coms, bringing the perception that they were just “trashy girls films” despite the fact that many women confided in them. And so, production of these movies were greatly reduced, and we never really saw the quality of rom-coms such as The Proposal, 27 Dresses and 13 Going on 30 again.  


Until Anyone But You. Anyone But You had a clean slate entering cinemas this December, with not a lot of expectation due to the quality of other rom-coms that had recently been produced. But after watching it, I can say that it can definitely compete with the rom-coms from the early 2000s that we grew up with. It brings a modernised perspective to a nearly forgotten style of film, revitalising it for the girls that have been wishing they could watch He’s Just Not That Into You and She’s The Man for the first time again. It follows a cliche storyline, but in a new and unique way. 


There are multiple features that make Anyone But You able to compete with the early 2000s rom-coms. One of my favourites is that the characters don’t spend time using their phones.

An IPhone is not shown anywhere throughout the film, and no characters spend time posting on Instagram or texting anyone. Despite the fact that we obviously do use phones in real life, the lack of their inclusion in the film makes viewers focus more on the actual characters themselves rather than their reality. And I think that is the main point—the whole point of a rom-com is for a viewer to escape their real life and indulge themselves in a world where the ending is always love, and nothing ever goes wrong without being fixed. In my opinion the inclusion of mobile phones would make the movie seem too real, and kind of ground viewers in a reality that they are trying to escape from.  


Another thing that makes Anyone But You a true contender for rom-com of the century is the romantic gestures. Every single rom-com has an out-there romantic gesture that takes place, and Anyone But You executes these perfectly to make all of our hearts melt—especially when they take place with the backing track Unwritten. The movie features a lot of those warm and fuzzy kind of hopeless romantic moments that we all long for. The type that was always presented in the golden era of rom-coms. In this way, the movie is successful in finding different ways to weave itself into our minds. After watching it we remember these romantic gestures as well as the awkward moments, the times we shouldn’t have been sitting next to our mum while watching, and of course the song. The way that we perceive and remember this film makes it comparable to the greats of the early 2000s. 


While it is a contender for one of the best rom-coms of the century, it’s up to individual opinion on whether it is the best or not. Sometimes the sheer nostalgia of the films like Miss Congeniality, Confessions of a Shopaholic, The Ugly Truth and 50 First Dates make them seem better than they actually are, causing us to remember them as the better movies. However, while the golden age of rom-coms might have seemed like a distant memory, Anyone But You has the potential to start the rom-com revolution of the 2020s. 

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