It is likely that if you have a Netflix account, or access to one, and you allow the “Popular on Netflix” algorithm to dictate your viewing decisions, then you will watch the totally pleasant break-up film Someone Great in the next few days. Perhaps you already have. If you are a fan of rom-coms, and the streaming giant’s recent foray into the genre—previously: Set It Up and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before—you will even enjoy it. Then you will forget it, as if the movie managed to travel in one ear and out the other, like a familiar song you hear blasting from a car but can’t quite place.
On the surface, Someone Great is good: Gina Rodriguez stars as Jenny, a 29-year-old music journalist who scores her “dream job” at Rolling Stone—but the catch is that she has to relocate from New York City to San Francisco, abandoning her home of over a decade and her boyfriend of nine years, Nate (Atlanta’s Lakeith Stanfield), who she met while they were NYU undergrads. He’d rather avoid a long distance relationship and is unwilling to move to be with her, so they break up. Her best friends, Erin (DeWanda Wise) and Blair (Brittany Snow), help Jenny drown her sorrows in one last night on the town before she moves. Naturally, it’s a hedonistic dream of booze, molly, weed, and a fictional music festival called Neon Classic.
There are hijinks along the way, as there are in all rom-coms, but with one major difference: this is a break-up movie. Erin and Blair aren’t flattened into underdeveloped side characters who only exist to offer Jenny guidance. They have their own dramas unfolding: Erin can’t seem to commit to her girlfriend and essentially, grow up, and Blair has grown so complacent in a boring, loveless relationship that she has an affair with a frenemy from college. In that regard, the movie differs from cliché, but still fails to offer anything memorable—there’s no moment that will go down in rom-com canon, no overwhelming wholesomeness or conflict that connects deep within the human desire to be loved.
However! Over the course of the hour-and-a-half long film, problems are resolved. Friendship is the answer. Jenny pursues her career ambitions instead of throwing it all away for a man, and that, too, feels like stereotype avoidance, but she’s not particularly celebrated for it.
Someone Great is nowhere near as charming as something like To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before; it never fully captures the rush of a crush (and with good reason, these are women terrified of entering their 30s, but also up for the challenge). The movie becomes too sentimental in moments that could’ve been more unusual, satirical, or played to the comedy instead of the tragedy of a broken romance. When Jenny is shown teary-eyed on the M-train near the film’s end, writing in her notebook about how “new and exciting” the world felt when she and Nate first met, Someone Great loses its ground and dives deep into the clichéd territory it worked so hard to avoid. But the beautiful thing about tropes is that they go down easy when you’re just looking for a fun movie to pass the time.