People deride rom-coms, but they’re not exactly easy to make well. It takes a perfect blend of cast, chemistry, and quips to make one that’s even passable, and going above and beyond that to make something truly timeless? That’s basically a miracle.
In fact, very few people can truly write, star in, or direct great rom-coms—something that’s abundantly clear when watching Love Again. An English-language remake of a film first released in Germany in 2016, Love Again stars Priyanka Chopra Jonas as Mira, a boring but beautiful children’s book author whose lovey-dovey boyfriend is struck down by a drunk driver while she watches. She spends the next two years holed up at her parents’ house, and when she eventually decides to return to the city they shared—which is supposed to be New York but very much isn’t, even in skyline shots—she’s persuaded to keep in touch with the spirit of John through conversation.
She takes this to mean that she should text her deepest personal thoughts and sadness to his old phone number, a move that shows wild disregard for how phone systems and time work. As this is a movie, there is of course a handsome and similarly heartbroken man, Rob (Outlander’s Sam Heughan), on the receiving end of those texts, and he attempts to suss out who is sending him the weirdly personal material on his work phone. The pair eventually meet and bond over their shared love of Air Jordans (ugh), and Rob of course withholds how he knew to go looking for her. That turns out to bite him in the ass, but not until the pair fall in love thanks to an ongoing work assignment for Heughan’s character involving Celine Dion, who plays herself—weirdo quirks and all—and is the best part of the movie by far.
Love Again could work, in theory. It’s got a Hallmark-level plot, and in other hands, perhaps the movie could be a little charming. Instead, with Chopra Jonas and Heughan on board, it feels wooden and clunky. Supposedly loving lines have as much uplift as a lead balloon, with each of the movie’s attempts at a rom-com trope—dancing in the park, kissing in the snow, a sexy bet on a game of one-on-one basketball—eliciting more groans than actual sentiment. It’s a wild bummer of a movie, one that audiences aren’t apt to fall in love with any time soon. PG-13, 104 min.