After her long-term stint in the popular sitcom – Big Bang Theory, Kaley Cuoco seems to be trying to break out of this mold. Her recent work on The Flight Attendant is an example of the same. Apart from the other reasons he has been in the public eye, Pete Davidson is primarily known for his Saturday Night Live work. Who knew an odd pairing of these two actors would yield an endearing romance? ‘Meet Cute,’ directed by Alexandre Lehmann, attempts to bring this magic to the screen. Now streaming on Peacock, it’s a romantic comedy film that uses the narrative tool of time travel.
Meet Cute (2022) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis
The film begins with Sheila (Kaley Cuoco) walking on a gorgeous night in New York, where we see a collection of mundane moments around her. While having her drink, she enters a bar and eyes a young man sitting at the table. After a brief interaction with the bartender motivates her, she goes to have a word with him. While sitting next to him, she starts on an awkward note. She introduces herself, and he introduces himself – as Gary. They have a fun, little chat about their old-timey names, and after their initial state of bonding, she mentions that she’s a time traveler who has come to this day from the future.
He asks all the obvious questions one would ask about the future, and their interaction heads on a sweeter path. They walk out of the bar and start talking about themselves and, despite the casualness of this chat, share some of their personal details. He mentions his not-so-good relationship with his dead father, and she also informs him about her father’s death. On their way, they decide to go somewhere for food where different people try to attract them to their restaurant. He jokes about it being a ‘real Sophie’s choice,’ and she mentions that she loves when he makes that joke. Then, she takes him to a South-Asian restaurant where she says he is coming not from a far-off future but from just 24 hours later.
He finds all of it amusing. He shares that he is a freelance graphic designer and works primarily from home. She jokes that is what turned him from a lonely guy to a lonely man. Meanwhile, she shares her side of the story, when she got into a nail salon to get her nails done and stumbled upon a tanning machine, which she had no idea was a time machine, until one of the employees, June (Deborah S. Craig) mentioned it, being purchase by the store owner. She asks if that makes her sound crazy and delusional and what he finds is just cute. Then, she orders both as if she has expertise on the menu.
She tells the man outside the restaurant when they leave the restaurant that she’ll see him again tomorrow with exceptional ease. He speaks about breaking up with an ex named Amber, and they head for dessert. At a food vehicle, they come across an edgy teen telling them strange names of flavors. They get one of the ice cream cones and speak about their dysfunctional childhoods. She mentions another part of her time travel journey – when she traveled back, and he killed herself – which he thinks to be a joke. After a goof-up at their table, she mentions to him that – ‘It’s okay for things to be messy sometimes’ – to calm him down. When they walk out, she mentions that she has lived this same night for a week already, which baffles him. Why would someone want to travel to the same time over and over again? She finds it significant that she gets to behave any way she wants and relive the night.
Once they depart, she goes through the exact process she mentioned to him of killing herself by hitting with her car. At their next meeting, she seems much more self-assured and confident. During this visit, she mentions going to the nail salon with the intent of actually killing herself. The same routine follows her confession of suicide they followed the time before when they go to a South Asian restaurant, they share their traumas, and she learns more about him. At the end of their walk, she professes her love for him, which strikes him as odd. She mentions that it’s their five months together. Who would do it after just one date? She keeps trying her luck with him in attempt after attempt.
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In one of the later encounters, she seems to have gotten bored of being with him or their good time together for just a night, not leading anywhere concrete. Instead of the cutesy way their nights worked out before, this night shows them annoyed with one another. Later, she mentions her idea to Anil (the man outside the restaurant) to travel back in time and change Gary as a person, to heal his traumas or to help him not go through them. Anil finds it silly. People don’t change, he mentions. But she decides to do it anyway.
On her 365th night with Gary, she finds him suited up instead of his casual outfit with a T-shirt. She goes up to him and finds him to be uptight. Instead of the place she always takes him to, he takes her to a fancy restaurant. Even his interests and topic of conversation are wildly different. During their dinner, she learns him being the founder of a start-up. But when she mentions her time travel, he finds her to be silly and instantly decides to leave. She catches him outside and informs him about her tours back in his childhood, hoping to heal his traumas. She mentions coming there as Uncle Charlie to teach his younger self some valuable lessons. He cannot fathom how she ruined a precious memory from his life.
She feels she can take his pain away, making all of these efforts sane. Registering his frustration with this thought, she decides to travel back again to reverse her decisions. She feels this would enable the things between her and Gary to return to the way they used to be. But June breaks her bubble, shares her own traumas, and mentions how these enabled her to be the person she is today. ‘If you erase the pain, you erase the person, she says.
After their chat, she goes back to their night of the date and finds the casual, goofy Gary and gets pleased to see the version of him that she fell in love with. He mentions having a Deja Vu about their meeting, after which they go on with their night in her definitive version. The night even leads them to end up kissing on the ferry ride. While she keeps sharing details of her time travel and her obsession leading her to freeze time as per her comfort, he can’t help but find it sick. Since she mentions all the details about June, he decides to go back in time and try changing the past. She tries to stop him, saying how he saved her from committing suicide and how he’s the only thing that makes her happy. However, he keeps up with his wish to travel back in time himself.
Meet Cute (2022) Review
A well-directed New York romance with weak writing
When I first saw the film’s title and Pete Davidson in the lead, it instantly took me back to an SNL skit, which pokes fun at the cliches of romance. What appears like a cocktail of Linklater’s Before trilogy (due to its ruminating conversations) and Groundhog Day, ‘Meet Cute’ is a neatly directed film. It is essentially a romantic comedy that uses the elements of time travel. Alex Lehmann, who worked on gut-wrenching indie films like Paddleton and Blue Jay, shows his prowess at finding the beauty in the mundane. He makes this conversational film find a breeziness tone whenever required and soaks you in the gorgeousness of New York at night.
The film bases its narrative on if we could travel back to our loved one’s past, would we heal their traumas and try to change them as people? Sheila and Gary are caught up in a series of attempts directed toward this very attempt. It tries to navigate whether this would lead to carving an ideal version of your partner to fulfill your personal interests and desires. While doing that, it also shows the groundhog day-like repetition of the same night, where Sheila keeps trying to make it all end on a perfect note. Gary, as she mentions, is the only reason that keeps her from wanting to end her life.
Yet, the way its screenplay written by Noga Pnueli binds obsessive infatuation with trauma-bonding feels insipid. A bond formed by such conditions does not sound like a healthy relationship, even when the director’s ability and execution make it seem like a genuinely romantic tale. So, the film falters when it starts to show cracks in its writing. Besides that, Kaley Cuoco’s performance seems overdone, like the animated gestures she is used to in her sitcom career. Some of the film’s crucial moments lose their impact for the same reason.
The insistent attempt by June to try out different possibilities of how her life will turn out reminded me of the recent post-modern series, The Rehearsal. However, unlike the Nathan Fielder series, what the script of Meet Cute manages to achieve is just a surface-level exploration of their respective lives and traumas. It doesn’t delve deeper into what caused them and limits itself to some bare mentions of traumatic events. The dialogues also show a cursory understanding of what the characters are going through, which makes the film end up in a zone of saccharine romance despite the insertion of skepticism of its characters. Someone who understands you or stays with you can make your life livable. However, making a bonding based on traumas seem like rejoice of soulmates feels rather idiotic.
Meet Cute (2022) Ending Explained
After the end of their date, Gary walks to the nail salon where June works and asks her about the time machine. She lets him go back in time, where he reached Sheila’s childhood when she was tiny. He sees signs of irresponsive parents in her life but tries to calm her down after she gets stressed. He assumes that his nudge would resolve all her issues, but he learns from June that he just missed Sheila, who didn’t seem to be doing any better. She thanks June for the months of providing her service and mentions being tired by her insistent attempts. He goes to the bridge, where she is planning to commit suicide.
While he tries to save her from committing it, she can’t think of any reason to enter the next day. Even when she tries to make him go away, he stays with her and mentions how he will be there for the entire night if needed. He says that June helped him see the future, which is excellent and involves her, unlike what she assumes. He walks off the bridge when she asks for proof, confident she’ll follow him. And she does. They go on a walk yet again, but only this time do they enter the future together.