Year:  2022

Director:  Alex Lehmann

Release:  November 25, 2022

Distributor: Prime Video

Running time: 89 minutes

Worth: $12.00
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Pete Davidson, Kaley Cuoco, Deborah S. Craig, Rock Kohli

… a little more twisted and offbeat, like 50 First Dates if both characters were deeply unstable and also not averse to a little casual homicide.

Given the pairing of SNL alum Pete Davidson and prime time TV’s sweetheart Kaley Cuoco as the romantic leads, audiences could be forgiven for going into this one expecting the same brand of heavy-on-the-comedy romcom made famous by Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. What Meet Cute delivers instead is something a little more twisted and offbeat, like 50 First Dates if both characters were deeply unstable and also not averse to a little casual homicide.

Gary (Davidson) is timid and riddled with social anxiety, Sheila (Cuoco) is… we don’t have time to unpack all of that. The two meet in a sports bar, hit it off, and decide to make a night of it — dinner, drinks and sharing the kind of secrets you’ll only tell a stranger, like how Gary has daddy issues, or how Sheila is a time traveller from 24 hours in the future. Just normal first date things.

Noga Pnueli’s script takes the time-travel trope and flips it on its head. There’s no noble altruistic sacrifice or getting stuck in a time loop because the universe needs you to learn a lesson, this is purely Sheila’s selfish need to keep living in that one perfect moment, the ideal first date. Pnueli is well versed in all the expected time travel clichés and embraces some while completely dodging others, keeping audiences on their toes gracefully enough that the grating repetition of re-living this one single night alongside Gary and Sheila doesn’t completely alienate after the second go-around.

Sheila’s pattern of repeatedly “coming clean” about her various transgressions date after date gives Cuoco a chance to really display her range, from cutesy to fully unhinged, and when butting heads with Davidson’s good nature and awkward charm, their easy comradery is believable enough that we can buy Sheila wanting to spend months of her life coming back again and again to re-live this night with him.

Director Alex Lehmann (Paddleton) sets the mood with thrumming neon and an off-kilter, late night aesthetic that makes everything feel dreamlike and slightly unreal. Even the side characters — June the nail salon worker (Deborah S. Craig), and Amit (Rock Kohli) the Indian restaurant owner — have a delightful eccentricity that feels bigger than life, making Sheila’s wildness acceptable. She’s manipulative, neurotic, obsessive and, oh yeah, A MURDERER — but despite it all, you can’t help rooting for these two crazy (literally) kids to work it out.

The charismatic cast do make the monotony of re-living the same scenes again and again and again and one more time, bearable, and while the plot does rely heavily on the toxic idea that the perfect relationship can cure bad mental health, it’s best to remind yourself that this is a world where tanning beds become time machines with the twist of a dial, and ultimately, it’s not that deep.