February 6th, 2024
STARRING: CAMILA MENDES, ARCHIE RENAUX, MARISA TOMEI, LENA OLIN
DIRECTED BY: CARLSON YOUNG
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
If the romantic comedy is going to survive, I think we need more like Carlson Young’s newest effort, Upgraded. This is a rom-com that succeeds with all the typical trappings but still finds a way to surprise us with its charm. It begins with Camila Mendes as the lead, playing an out-of-college, late-20s woman, stuck living on her sister’s futon, and can’t catch a break to make a career for herself. Things turn around when she is given an upgrade to first class on a flight, but as most romcoms go, her issues are just beginning. Upgraded finds a way to soar through the predictable clouds, with a delightful supporting cast, and lands perfectly on the romantic comedy runway.
Mendes stars as Ana, an independent woman who went to college and got her masters in the study of art, and now she works at Erwin’s, the premier auction house in New York City. Her boss is the intimidating Claire (played spectacularly by Marisa Tomei), a snarky leader, giving off The Devil Wears Prada vibes, while surrounded by her suck-up assistant Suzette (Rachel Matthews) and Renee (Fola Evans-Akingbola). Getting into Claire’s circle is nearly impossible, but when Ana notices a typo in the recent auction book, it causes Claire to take notice. Soon, Ana was added as a third assistant and needed to review a collection in London.
As fate has it, Ana receives her lucky upgrade, and finds herself sitting next to Will (Archie Renaux). They hit it off, share champagne, and their reasons for heading to London town. But instead of saying she’s the lowly assistant, she tells Will that she’s the boss at Erwin’s in New York, setting the wheels in motion for a messy situation. When Ana finds out Will’s mother Catherine (Lena Olin) is a fabulous actress and the person who is auctioning her ex-husband’s art collection, Ana must now pretend to be in a position she’s not in, keeping it secret from her boss, and still keep a budding romance growing.
For most romantic comedies, what would follow is predictable, which is no different for Upgraded, but it glides by on sheer charm. It’s written by three different people, Christine Lenig, Luke Spencer Roberts, and Justin Matthews. Although their screenplay can feel like two movies- the pursuit of romance and the comedic side of cut-throat art auction houses- it’s the comedic stuff that rises above. Most of that credit belongs to Tomei, who steals every scene with her sharp attitude and sporting a hilariously European accent. And even as Tomei takes the cake, it’s Mendes who has a straightforward approach, taking it seriously enough to be believable, and never letting the romance dip into the cheesy factor.
Upgraded will look to some like just another sappy rom-com but what Young’s film does is split the gap. Here is a movie that is the perfect movie for adults, tweens, and teenagers. The hopeless romantic will enjoy and the entertainment of women being catty to one another is certainly there. This is a pleasant surprise and just another reminder that Marisa Tomei is one of the greatest. Upgraded takes flight and it truly soars.
UPGRADED IS PLAYING EXCLUSIVELY ON PRIME VIDEO THIS FRIDAY FEBRUARY 9TH, 2024.
Written by: Leo Brady