New from Every Movie Has a Lesson by Don Shanahan: MOVIE REVIEW: Something From Tiffany’s

Images courtesy of Amazon Studios

SOMETHING FROM TIFFANY’S– 3 STARS

Romantic comedies so often rely on the classic “Meet Cute” circumstance to get their movies rolling. There’s not a darn thing wrong with that tendency. If anything, that catalyst of charm is almost a must for the genre. The screenwriter needs that plot point typed out to the letter more than scribbled on a cocktail napkin or Post-It note. The great ones have that detail down and nail it. Amazon’s new holiday-set rom-com Something From Tiffany’s has a shade of an odd “Meet Cute,” but it gets the energy right.

Two men are shopping at Tiffany & Co. looking for a sock-knocking Christmas gift for their long-time girlfriends. The first is the single father and semi-successful author Ethan Greene (Kelvin Sampson of Miss Juneteenth) who has returned to New York after several years in Los Angeles with his teenage daughter Daisy (Beast’s Leah Jeffries). He’s here to pick out an engagement ring for Vanessa (Shay Mitchell of TV’s Pretty Little Liars), the woman who has stepped in after the death of Daisy’s mother.

The other gentleman is the disorganized and struggling tattoo artist Gary Wilson (Ray Nicholson of Licorice Pizza and, yes, he’s the son of Jack). He’s just looking for a “reasonable” pair of earrings for his bakery owner main squeeze Rachel Meyer (the headlining Zoey Deutch). After the two men bump into each other, Gary is clipped by a taxi and sent to the hospital. The kindly Ethan meets the plucky Rachel at the hospital when he and Daisy inquire about Gary, and the twinkling begins. The strangers have their moment and depart.

LESSON #1: BRAND RECOGNITION IS STRONG– Pausing for a bit, the brand recognition in Something at Tiffany’s is front and center. Men and women know that particular luxury jewelry store’s sterling reputation. No one, other than maybe Gary, shops there for less than the best. Folks see that soft blue-colored bag, the wedding bells start ringing, and the assumptions begin. The questions of marital readiness flutter like crazy, a thought not lost on Rachel when she spots a little Tiffany’s box among Gary’s belongings coming home from the hospital.

LESSON #2: PRESENT THE CONUNDRUM– That’s all well and good until Christmas morning. Rachel opens her box to receive a stunning round-cut diamond solitaire ring while Vanessa gets the ho-hum earrings. Somewhere in the ruckus of shopping and accidents, a bag switcheroo occurred between Gary and Ethan. Both men, naturally, are floored, and not for the same reasons as their respective girlfriends. Ethan’s pickle is far worse than Gary’s, and the only person he knows to seek out is Rachel at her bakery and pop-up locations in Little Italy.

LESSON #3: ADMIT TO HONEST MISTAKES AND MISUNDERSTANDINGS– This is where intentional imperfections of the “Meet Cute” setup come into play in Something From Tiffany’s. A composed and sensible person would tell the truth to their significant other and admit to a simple misunderstanding of no harm/no foul. They wouldn’t try to save face, take the cowardice route, and run with lies that compound and get worse. But that’s real-life logic. Movie logic needs a conflict for Cupid to shoot with his arrows, so off we go. 

LESSON #4: BE CUTE– If this writer may offer a little extra advice to romantic comedy screenwriters, it would be to add a “Be Cute” quotient to their films. What is meant by that is having more substantive character details beyond the simple draw of beautiful people falling for other beautiful people. You need more than pristine smiles and a manicured wardrobe. You need fuller people. 

In Zoey Deutch and Kelvin Sampson, the “Meet Cute” is enhanced by the lift of the “Be Cute.” You root for these two characters more for their meshed personalities than the locking draw of their mutual dreamy eyes. This is where valuable warmth beats plain old hotness, especially in Zoey Deutch, who is an effervescent delight as a love interest wise enough to seek a heart in the right place embodied by Sampson. 

Screenwriter Tamara Chestna (Sneakerella), drawing from Melissa Hill’s novel, gives the main characters of Something From Tiffany’s a little more stuffing between their ears and earnestness between their ribs. Chestna fleshed out an able widower single father and female business owner both with reasonably low melodrama. Moreover, the two leads are fully aware of their larger adult responsibilities taking precedence over the usual dalliance of tossing everything away for love. In doing so, the comedy is smarter and more honest as well. Thanks to Terri, a scene-stealing best friend of Rachel’s played by Fresh’s Jojo T. Gibbs, good attitudes win over surly low-hanging fruit. Even the few s-words dropped aren’t enough to push it past PG, which is a welcome trait. 

Those layers, baked in by director Daryl Wein (How It Ends), present a small, but very commendable maturity and restraint from the norm. Characters with tangible messiness about them are still pausing to think with their heart and head equally. That relatability brings about romantic possibilities in Something From Tiffany’s that spark with stronger potential connections than the short burst of superficial fireworks based on mere looks. Enjoy that little diversion on Amazon Prime.

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