Say you met someone, had the most perfect date, and you never wanted the night to end. How far would you go to keep reliving that moment? Meet Cute stars Kaley Cuoco and Pete Davidson as Sheila and Gary, young New Yorkers stuck in a time loop, reliving their first date over and over again. Meet Cute is written by Noga Pnueli and directed by Alex Lehman.
In a Manhattan bar, Sheila approaches Gary and asks to buy him a drink. They order the same thing, so cute, and Sheila tells Gary a secret – she’s a time traveller from the future. They leave to get dinner and the night unfolds perfectly, with the pair laughing and adventuring around the city, but as the evening goes on, Sheila unveils more and more secrets about her time travelling habit, leaving Gary feeling a little unsettled.
Truthfully, this isn’t their first date, they’ve actually done this several times. Sheila, by chance, stumbled upon a tanning bed in the back of a nail salon that can send her into the past for 24 hours. Since then, she’s gone back hundreds of times to relive their date, and each time she tells Gary she’ll “see him tomorrow”. Before long Sheila’s “perfect night” just isn’t doing it for her anymore, so she goes a little further back into Gary’s past to change him into who she thinks will be her perfect man.
Time loop movies are a lot of fun and Meet Cute is no exception. Pnueli’s script really leans into the “what if” moments, showing how one tiny change in behaviour, one word different to before, can impact the events of the day. A movie like Meet Cute can very easily fall into a boredom trap by nature of the fact that the plot revolves around the same event, in the same locations, with the same people, but with Davidson and Cuoco at the helm of their characters, it never stops being engaging. In a similar vein to 2020’s Palm Springs, Meet Cute explores the neuroses of its characters with surprising depth.
With Davidson mostly being known for his dating exploits, many forget that he is extremely funny and a very decent actor. His natural awkwardness fits perfectly with the meek, socially clumsy Gary, but there are so many moments where Davidson really gets to showcase his talent, turning sombre, angry, conflicted, and scared in seconds.
Cuoco, whose most notable role was Penny on The Big Bang Theory, was also able to really flex her chops in this feature, playing a deeply sad and complex woman. Sheila is extremely troubled and had convinced herself that the only thing worth doing anymore was ending her life until that fateful encounter with the tanning bed time machine and Gary at the bar. Sheila, who had truly reached the lowest point of her life, has hinged the entirety of her happiness on a man she’s spent one night with (albeit over and over again).
Both Cuoco and Davidson play off each other really well; sharing dialogue at whip speed and showing real moments of tenderness between each other. Their chemistry is very natural and believable, which made watching them play out the same scenario over and over somehow not tiring. With each repeat of their date, Sheila’s mental state visibly declines and Gary’s wariness over her behaviour increases, allowing each version of their date to take on a new life.
When Sheila attempts to defeat the monotony of their date by using the information she’s learned about Gary over the course of the year to fundamentally change who he is as a person, we see her reach a new low. Like an addict, Sheila is doing everything she can to recreate the feeling of that first date but to no avail. Cuoco, while leaning into the ridiculousness of Sheila’s antics, puts a lot of heart into her character’s breakdown. Davidson, having had his own real-life battles with poor mental health, brings a lot of compassion to those scenes despite the fact that Gary has been repeatedly victimised by Sheila’s actions.
Watching Sheila repeatedly try to hold onto Gary in the hopes that he will be the thing that fixes all her problems is upsetting because we know that the version of him and the version of this date that she’s clinging to will not sustain her. Gary knows this, but he also comes to realise that the only way for Sheila to be truly happy is for him to help her break the loop and move forward in a healthy way.
For a low-stakes movie night where you just want to be entertained, Meet Cute is a great choice. It’s not a ‘stitch-in-your-side’ gut buster comedy, but it does have just enough laughs to help balance its darker themes. Plus two leading actors that know exactly when to tug on your heartstrings and leave you feeling satisfied.
Meet Cute is available on Amazon Prime Video now.