Meet Cute review – charmless time travel romantic comedy

Kaley Cuoco and Pete Davidson can’t muster up enough chemistry for an increasingly annoying attempt to make an edgy romcom

Pete Davidson and Kaley Cuoco in Meet Cute. Photograph: Peacock

Meet Cute, a grating Peacock romcom starring Kaley Cuoco and Pete Davidson, dives straight into a classic story: boy meets girl at a New York bar – or, more specifically, girl eyes boy intensely from one end of the bar, asks him for a drink and seems to know what he’ll say before he says it. Cuoco’s perky Sheila and Davidson’s Gary, diffident and a bit disheveled, exchange rhythmic banter. A couple of sarcastic, too-mannered barbs later, they’re off on a solid New York first date: dinner at East Village staple Panna II Garden, dessert at an ice cream truck, a ferry ride, thrift shopping, beers at a polka bar, nightcap walk along the East River.

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Along the way, Sheila reveals the catch: their meet-cute seems to glide on air because they’ve practiced several times. She’s a time traveler from 24 hours in the future, running back the magic of their first date again and again. Sheila packages each info dump as flirty time-travel role play, a bit for the unwitting Gary to pitch back that quickly grows stale. As hard as Cuoco and Davidson try at chemistry – and Cuoco, at least, seems to be really trying – this umpteenth spin on the Groundhog Day time loop is more irksome than endearing, cutesy than actually cute, a downward spiral of uncomfortably performed neuroticism that devolves into a borderline indefensible ending. Palm Springs, this is not.

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It does not help that the first third of the movie, written by Noga Pnueli and directed by Alex Lehmann, does little to alter the scope or stakes of Sheila and Gary’s repetitive date. Sheila, who we learn was suicidal until she found the time machine (telegraphed by smudged eyeliner, of course, and her proclamation that she wants to kill herself) goes back in time via a tanning bed at a nondescript nail salon run by deadpan manicurist June (Deborah S Craig.) She runs her old self over with a car. She goes to Gary’s bar in the same yellow gingham dress, differentiated by slight hairstyle changes. (This is clearly a Covid-era movie, with few costume changes, two main indoor sets, and many scenes set outside.) She unsuccessfully tries to explain the loop to Gary without freaking him out, which is the natural reaction to someone endlessly running back a first date because “you’re the only person to make me truly happy ever”.


Cuoco and Davidson, delivering his best aw-shucks shrugs, are not bad actors; they build up a small reservoir of affection over the first half of this 80-minute film. But that’s squandered in the latter half by Sheila’s increasingly irredeemable behavior and the film’s handling of her mental health crisis. More specifically, Sheila, whom Cuoco overplays with wide-eyed, manic energy, begins messing with Gary’s childhood to optimize his adult self. Worse, as Gary begins to subconsciously catch on to Sheila’s desperate and futile attempts to freeze time, Meet Cute doubles down on her gestures toward suicide; I watched with gritted teeth as the final act presented the romcom stakes as reconciliation with Gary or jumping off a bridge. It’s insensitive at best, a cheap attempt at character depth.

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There’s an intriguing thread somewhere in here about unrequited obsession that has more do to with insecurities than actual love, about how depression can lead to intense, sticky fixations that are difficult to surrender. This is not a smart enough film to do that, nor one as edgy as it seems to think it is. It’s competently directed – New York feels like New York, gritty and infinitely open. The lines must’ve worked on the page, and sometimes echo real flirtation. But well-timed rapport is not a substitute for charm, nor enough to justify this empty loop.

  • Meet Cute is now available on Peacock with a UK date to be announced
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