Bless Netflix original movies for becoming the most reliable bastion of the modern, mediocre rom-com. And Set It Up is an archetype of the form. *Stefon from SNL voice* This rom-com has everything: an elevator meet-cute, a gay best friend, a last-minute run to the airport, the future Mr. Ariana Grande, Pete Davidson.
As far as rom-com premises go, Set It Up is pretty standard: Two overworked assistants, Harper (Zoey Deutch) and Charlie (Glen Powell) decide to Parent Trap their Type-A bosses in order to help them relax — and get them out of the office more often. (Three guesses as to whether that charming banter and the undeniable chemistry between the assistants leads to them becoming the couple themselves.)
Lucy Liu and Taye Diggs are the bosses, a sports reporter and a venture capitalist respectively, who treat their assistants like they’re Miranda Priestly. Some of the movie’s gags seem lifted from Devil Wears Prada directly — Charlie has to complete a science project for his boss’s child; Harper has to return things and make reservations with only the vaguest suggestions of what place her boss is thinking of — and so, if Set It Up isn’t quite as funny as The Devil Wears Prada, it does at least ring truer to life.
The true strength of the film lies in Zoey Deutch’s magnetic performance. It’s impossible to watch this film and not come to the conclusion that the actress (Vampire Academy) is a soon-to-be major star, as soon as she hits on a major project that makes use of her effortless humor and charisma. She’s well matched with Powell (Scream Queens), who looks like a hunky Cameron from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and has mastered the art of being snarky without being smarmy.
We also get a star-studded (albeit underutilized) supporting cast — Search Party’s Meredith Hagner plays Harper’s roommate, engaged to her puppy-dog affectionate fiancé (former SNL cast member Jon Rudnitsky); Pete Davidson shows up as Charlie’s best friend. We also get a scene with the brilliant Tituss Burgess as “Creepy Tim,” the elevator operator in the office building where Charlie and Harper work, who agrees to get their bosses stuck in an elevator so long as he’s gifted with a potted plant he can watch slowly die (they don’t call him Creepy Tim for nothing!)
If anything, the cast of Set It Up is so good that the film’s thin script is under constant threat of collapse. But the movie achieves the highest honor for a streaming romantic comedy, which is that it’s perfect to watch while eating takeout Chinese food on your couch and also drinking wine that has been in your fridge too long. Thank you, Set It Up, for your service. B