Meet Cute is romantic comedy with a self-consciousness that adds to its charm; it buries some romantic comedy tropes while leaving others alive.
The film begins with the male protagonist, Nick, flubbing his way through life—he mistakenly concludes his friend Amy is a murderer, then accidently objectifies Dani, the girl he has a crush. He assures his friends he has no romantic feelings for Dani, though this is clearly false. Nick goes over to Dani’s house to download a file from her only to discover—to his delight and her chagrin—it is going to take three hours to be completed. Nick invites himself to stay as the file downloads; things are awkward at first but the two eventually begin to bond. Just as things are finally about to fall into place for Nick, things spiral out of control when Dani discovers something rather suspicious on his computer. The romantic comedy takes a sharp turn
Meet Cute features a colorful and engaging cast of characters—achieved by a combination of excellent acting performances, witty dialogue, and clever plot construction. Nick is a bumbling oversharer, tripping over his own words and jumping to absurd conclusions. For example, when he sees Amy digging a whole in the yard, he thinks she is burying her boyfriend’s body; because the film is so grounded in his perspective, the film almost seems to have a tinge of horror to it in these opening scenes rather than romantic comedy. The zany Amy adds a quirky element of dark comedy—further, the running joke she creates cleverly becomes essential to the film’s climax and resolution. Dani’s smart sharpness is well portrayed and plays well off of Nick’s blundering. Nick’s friends Andy and Jules are refreshingly frank, their opinions about Nick’s behaviors and pitfalls providing the film with a clever self-knowledge.
Meet Cute self-consciously plays with the well-known tropes of romantic comedy, at times bending the rules of the genre. Nick’s friend Jules tells him he has a tendency to come off as “weird-weird” to which he retorts “it’s part of my charm!”—the exchange points out the predefined characters that often occupy the world of a romantic comedy and questions them, in that Nick is really not charming at all. There is a clear self-consciousness in the way characters are drawn—Dani is markedly cool and distant while Nick is painfully average and hopelessly lovestruck. The fact that each character fits the classic tropes a little too well points to the clever satirical elements at work in Meet Cute, seen most clearly when Nick describes his past romantic exploits. Nick states he once fell for a girl who was “really smart and sophisticated but also had this, like, dark cynical sense of humor”—the description feels as if it came directly out of a character treatment, which is precisely the point. He also describes another incident in which he “thought it’d be fun to take [a girl] to an open house and…role play that we were more serious than we actually were,” a veiled reference to romantic comedies like 500 Days of Summer. Nick is made in to the archetypal hero of a series of romantic comedies to demonstrate the inherent absurdities that have become pillars of the genre. The final scene of Dani and Nick laughing at their situation resonates on a metatextual level in that they are also laughing at the absurd expectations of the genre.