Netflix’s ongoing (and laudable) efforts to revive romantic-comedy films have moved so quickly that the company is now plowing through every subgenre available. There was Set It Up, an endlessly rewatchable workplace meet-cute flick; there was To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, a pitch-perfect high-school throwback. Now, with Someone Great, the moviemaking debut of Jennifer Kaytin Robinson (who created the TV series Sweet/Vicious), Netflix has its first good breakup film. This energetic misadventure, set over the course of one crazy night in New York, charts the end of a major relationship—as well as the hope, and misery, that follows.
Robinson is a vibrant writer, and Someone Great is a confident first film. It makes clever use of various locations throughout New York to create a story that feels like a supercharged episode of Broad City, filled with farcical mishaps involving sex, drugs, and friendship. The movie is grounded by a star turn from Gina Rodriguez, who sheds her chipper Jane the Virgin persona to portray a more frayed romantic lead. Someone Great is sometimes painfully trendy, thanks to flashbacks that are photographed with the neon haze of an Instagram filter and a perfectly curated soundtrack of the moment. But this aesthetic is fitting for a movie that’s best experienced while lazing on the couch, preferably on the morning after a wild night out.
Rodriguez plays Jenny, a 29-year-old music journalist who gets her big break and lands a job at Rolling Stone that, implausibly, requires her to move to San Francisco (Rolling Stone closed its famed Bay Area offices 12 years ago). That news prompts Nate (Lakeith Stanfield), Jenny’s boyfriend of nine years, to break up with her rather than turn their relationship into a long-distance slog. Distraught, Jenny enlists her best pals, Blair (Brittany Snow) and Erin (DeWanda Wise), to distract her by going out and partying around Manhattan. From then on, Someone Great kicks into high speed, and its plot becomes little more than a series of comedy sketches.
The film sometimes gratingly leans into caricature, then swerves away with a cute plot twist. Blair is a type-A stick-in-the-mud with a dull boyfriend (Alex Moffat)—but then it’s revealed that she also has a more dramatic affair playing out in secret. Erin is a free-spirited party animal—but she’s unwilling to admit to herself that her newest relationship might actually be worth committing to. Robinson’s script spends a solid amount of time digging into these dynamics rather than having Blair and Erin exist as one-dimensional plot devices. This is a rom-com where the male characters are the underdeveloped ones, a refreshing turnaround from the norm.
Nate is given a little more shading through the frequent memories Robinson sprinkles throughout the film, cutting between the beginning of his and Jenny’s relationship (when they were in their early 20s) and now. It’s basically impossible for Stanfield not to be charming, so there’s a good amount of wistfulness in Someone Great’s flashbacks, and the loss of Nate’s chemistry with Jenny feels like something worth mourning. But the film establishes early on that while this breakup is sad, it’s also important to move on from. Someone Great isn’t so much a story about losing one’s boyfriend as it is about growing up and entering the scary territory of your 30s, where time seems more precious and juvenile mistakes are harder to ignore.
Once that emotional truth at the core of Robinson’s script becomes apparent, Someone Great becomes a bit of a drag, jumping from one outlandish premise to another as Jenny and her pals try to get the right drugs, score invites to the right parties, and speak in the buzziest sound bites imaginable. Jenny views her breakup with a ridiculous sort of grandeur, monologuing about how special her bond with Nate was, but it’s an understandable attitude for someone bidding goodbye to her 20s as if life will never be the same again. Robinson could stand to further satirize Jenny’s penchant for apocalyptic pronouncements about her love life, but the writer-director is too busy getting easy laughs from set pieces about “Beyoncé weed” and lobbing guest stars like RuPaul and Jaboukie Young-White at the screen. Someone Great is fizzy, frivolous, and probably easily forgotten, but for a weekend-friendly jolt of entertainment, rom-com fans could do far worse.