The Pitch: It’s a tale as old as time: Gary (Pete Davidson) and Sheila (Kaley Cuoco) meet at a bar, and it’s basically love at first sight. She notices him because he’s the only one in the bar not watching the Big Game. He notices her because she’s funny, witty, unexpected, and a little kooky; their droll senses of humor bounce off each other like electricity. As their night goes from bar to restaurant to slow walks and talks along the riverside, it seems like their moment-one spark is too good to be true.
Well, that might be because it is: It doesn’t take long for Sheila to fess up to the fact that their spontaneous meeting wasn’t so spontaneous: She’s lived this night dozens of times before, thanks to a magical tanning machine in a nearby nail salon that zaps you back 24 hours in time.
Meeting Gary at a vulnerable time in her life and feeling that spark, she’s decided to use the magical bed to get this first date with Gary perfect, no matter how many trips it takes. But the more she tries, the further she gets from the perfect man she wants — until she decides to change the past to mold him to perfection.
Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? In some ways, the title of Peacock’s Meet Cute is a bit of a misnomer. Sure, the first act of director Alex Lehmann’s latest offers a novel spin on the titular rom-com trope: What if someone tried to recapture the spontaneity of a meet-cute over and over again, just to get it right?
But as Noga Pnueli’s screenplay (which made it to the 2018 Black List) unfurls along its easy, charming path, it makes an interesting pivot to that other well-worn romantic sentiment: I can fix him. And that’s where the film gets truly interesting, even as it overburdens its stakes along the way.
Lehmann, who’s no stranger to low-budget, existential two-handers like this (see: the deceptively excellent mumblecore bromance Paddleton from a few years back), smartly paces the first version of Gary and Sheila’s fateful night. For a good long time, we’ve only got Cuoco and Davidson to lean on, and they’ve got a delightfully oddball chemistry: Cuoco the fast-talking, frantic romantic, Davidson his typical combination of hunched anxiety and laidback wit.
Lehmann lets their trains of thought stretch out over long, conversational takes, John Matysiak’s camera capturing a street-level New York filled with trash on the streets, Indian restaurants awash in multicolored Christmas lights on the ceiling, and food trucks serving ridiculously artisanal ice creams.