Spoiler alert! It’s never our intention to ruin anything, so here’s your warning that this piece reveals details and plot points for “Meet Cute” (streaming now on Peacock).
“Meet Cute” isn’t your typical, give-you-the-warm-fuzzies, make you wonder where your Matthew McConaughey is romantic comedy. And that’s not a knock on the film’s (newly single) lead Pete Davidson. But as a lover (pun intended) of the genre, the question I had while watching the film wasn’t my usual, whiny Where is my soulmate? But Who would I be without my trauma?
The movie’s title is a play on the term for the adorable way main characters first cross paths. But in the film, Sheila (Kaley Cuoco) and Gary (Davidson) relive their introduction – one of those amazing encounters that progress from drinks to dinner to dessert to wandering a beautiful city (in this case New York) – over and over because the magic of their meeting is the one thing keeping a depressed Sheila from killing herself.
“You saved me,” Sheila tells Gary in a heartbreaking moment. “This whole night saved me. I’m so scared. Gary, it could be the only thing that ever makes me happy.”
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Thanks to a tanning-bed time machine (similar to last month’s Diane Keaton comedy “Mack & Rita”) that allows those who hop in to visit a 24-hour period from the past, Sheila can meet Gary again and again.
Eventually the repetition dulls the excitement for Sheila and exacerbates Gary’s behavior, which she sees as faults. Sheila gets the idea that she can fix Gary by revisiting his past and replacing traumatic moments with more positive experiences.
But her meddling enrages Gary. Similarly, when Sheila offers to go to the past to ease tensions between June (Deborah S. Craig), the manicurist who told her about the tanning-bed time machine, and June’s parents, June strongly protests.
“If I didn’t have these occasional moments of complete and total worthlessness, I wouldn’t have this sparkling sense of humor,” June tells Sheila. “If you erase the pain, you erase the person.”
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Pretty deep for a rom-com. Most don’t make me contemplate the soul of my being. Who would I be without my trauma?
If I wasn’t mocked for my weight as a kid and called “Penguin” and “Whopper Jr.” (yes, like the Burger King hamburger), would I have developed a sense of humor or personality at all? If my dad’s MS didn’t confine him to a recliner, would I be so grateful for being able to walk outside and gaze at a glowing moon whenever I wanted? If I didn’t nearly die in the most embarrassing way (from a highly infected cyst on my vulva) would I be less appreciative for just being alive? I’m not saying everyone who has experienced trauma has to be thankful for it. That’s not my place, and I acknowledge that here are far grislier traumas than I’ve experienced. I’m just saying the film poses a very interesting question, which the stars themselves have also pondered.
During Davidson’s July appearance on Kevin Hart’s “Hart to Heart” Peacock interview series, the “SNL” alum acknowledged their upbringings likely pushed both into comedy.
“If everything was all peachy at home, Kevin, you wouldn’t be here. I tell my friends that all the time,” said Davidson, who was 7 when he lost his dad, firefighter Scott Davidson, on Sept. 11. “I’m like, ‘If my childhood was fine, I’d probably be a construction worker in Staten Island and be the happiest guy ever.’ But that weird (stuff) that it does to you made me love comedy.”
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When I chatted with Cuoco this spring, she was glad to have experienced life’s challenges and disappointments before entering a relationship with fellow actor Tom Pelphrey (“Ozark”), whom she described as “the love of my life.”
“I don’t even look at him and say, ‘Where have you been all my life? Why didn’t I meet you sooner?’ ” Cuoco said. “I don’t wish that, and he doesn’t either because I had to go through a lot of (stuff) and really look at myself in the mirror and the things that I have (messed up) over my past 10 years that I haven’t dealt with.
“In the last nine months, I’ve done a complete 180,” she said. “I don’t think this relationship would be what it is if I didn’t go through all of that.”
Not everyone will like “Meet Cute” because it doesn’t stick to the typical rom-com formula, but as is repeated multiple times in the film, “It’s OK for things to be messy sometimes.” That’s true in life and in the movies.
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