“Set It Up” Revives a Genre: A Movie Review

Alexis Letang, Life Reporter

Romantic comedies seem to be dying out. 

When people think of the most iconic romantic comedies, they often think of “When Harry Met Sally” (1989) or “10 Things I Hate About You” (1999), both taking place in the late 1980s through the 1990s. 

People do not think about romantic comedies made recently. When people think about modern romantic comedies, they think of a dead genre. However, I make the argument that the genre is not dead, but a bit poorly made. 

The “rom-com” was not an actual genre until “When Harry Met Sally” came out in 1989. From there the genre seemed to thrive from the late 1980s to the early 2000s. Romantic comedies seemed to have died off after 2010, but has been slowly resuscitated by companies, such as Netflix. 

Netflix has produced the “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” series (2018-2021) and “Always Be My Maybe” (2019). These are some of Netflix’s better romantic comedies. 

However, an overlooked Netflix romantic comedy is “Set It Up” directed by Claire Scanlon, which came out in 2018. The movie is about two assistants, Charlie (Glen Powell) and Harper (Zoey Deutch), that are overworked. Together, they devise a plan to set up their bosses (Taye Diggs and Lucy Liu) in order to get a break. 

“Set It Up” has two main storylines: the story of the bosses being set up by their assistants and the story of the two assistants outside of plotting and work. The two storylines keep the audience interested. 

The movie is an hour and 45 minutes long and allows you to get invested in the characters’ stories and development. 

Charlie and Harper are likable characters. They are a good combination of funny and awkward, but also actual humans with dreams. This makes it easy to start hoping that they do not get found out by their bosses, even though they are doing something that is morally incorrect. 

Another aspect of “Set It Up” that makes it great is how the relationships between characters don’t seem forced (Well, besides the relationship between the two bosses). Charlie and Harper’s relationship slowly grows stronger after each scene they are together in. The pacing of Charlie and Harper’s relationship not only feels natural, but also allows the audience to grow a bond with them. 

While realistic, “Set It Up” still makes it easy to indulge in the escapism of “movie magic.” When Charlie and Harper are first trying to set their bosses up, they make a plan to have the two sit next to each other and end up on the kiss cam. They ultimately succeed. This is similar to grand gesture moments in movies such as, the ending scene of “When Harry Met Sally” (1989). “Set It Up” balances feeling natural while still having the magic of other romantic comedies. 

In classic rom-coms like “10 Things I Hate About You,” there are plenty of iconic lines to go around. When you think of the movie, you think of the title line’s scene where Kat reads aloud a poem in class ending with the line “I hate the way I don’t hate you. Not even close, not even a little bit, not even at all.” It’s a well known line from an important part of the movie. 

“Set It Up” also has its quintessential moments. There is a scene in the movie where Charlie and Harper are at an engagement party for one of Harper’s friends. 

“I like you because, I love you despite,” Harper’s friend says while giving a speech.  

As the movie goes on, this line becomes more and more important. 

The cast of “Set It Up” is a combination of random well known actors and actresses — none of which I would put together in a movie. The cast consists of: Glen Powell (“Top Gun: Maverick”), Zoey Deutch (“Not Okay”), Taye Diggs (“Best Man Holiday”), Lucy Liu (“Kill Bill,” “Charlie’s Angels”), and Pete Davidson (“The King of Staten Island”). There even is a cameo by Broadway star Tituss Burgess. 

While this line up seems as if someone just pulled names out of a hat and cast them in a movie, the cast does not take away from the quality of the movie. In fact, it enhances the comedic aspect. 

Romantic comedies are not bad. They just need to be well made. “Set It Up” should inspire new creatives to give the genre another attempt. 

“Set It Up” is a movie for everyone. It does not matter if you are happily single, unhappily single, in a weird talking stage, in a situationship, in love with a fictional character, think romance is overrated or just in a stable relationship. “Set It Up” will put a smile on your face.