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Monday April 15th

‘Upgraded’: A charming yet conventional romance comedy repeat

<p><em>“Upgraded” offers nothing new or revolutionary to romantic comedy lovers. (Photo courtesy of </em><a href="" target=""><em>IMDb</em></a><em>)<br/><br/></em></p>

“Upgraded” offers nothing new or revolutionary to romantic comedy lovers. (Photo courtesy of IMDb)

By Jasmine Lee
Staff Writer

The debut of “Upgraded” on Amazon Prime, featuring Camila Mendes in the role of Ana Santos, offers a beacon of hope for fans of romantic comedy, suggesting that it has the potential to rejuvenate the entire genre.

The movie revolves around Santos, a financially struggling auction house assistant with a passion for art history. When she seizes the chance to travel to London, she becomes entangled in a web of deceit, impersonating her boss while trying to navigate the elite world of VIPs without detection. 

Amidst it all, a charmingly wealthy Englishman named William, played by Archie Renaux, whom Santos meets on the flight over, becomes smitten with her. This adds another layer of complexity to the story.

The scenario of the main female protagonist becoming entangled in a web of lies that escalates into larger problems while striving to avoid detection is a familiar trope in romantic comedies. Examples of this can be seen in classic films such as “She’s the Man” and “While You Were Sleeping.”

Fellow romantic comedy fans on TikTok were eagerly anticipating a new cheesy chick flick to indulge in. Some viewers saw potential in this film, comparing it to a blend of “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Cinderella,” with a touch of Picasso’s flair. However, from my perspective, the movie fell short in terms of originality and predictability.

It’s been quite some time since I watched a romantic comedy that didn’t feel like a diluted version of a previous film and its premise, and unfortunately, this movie still falls into that category.

For those well-acquainted with the phenomenon of a minor falsehood snowballing into a major deception, the trajectory of the film becomes apparent as soon as the initial lie is told. From the beginning, viewers anticipate the inevitable unraveling and downfall.

Typically, films centered around deceit and its consequences aim to teach a lesson against dishonesty. However, in this instance, that moral message becomes somewhat blurred by the end of the movie in several ways.

Upon being discovered by her boss, Santos faced reprimand and dismissal for her impersonation. 

Santos is praised by both the auction client, who is William’s mother Catherine, portrayed by Lena Olin, who herself is an actress, for her ability to “fake it till she makes it.”

Catherine then advocated for Santos to take charge of the auction and urged her boss to overlook Santos’s actions. This highlights how deceit can sometimes be overlooked rather than facing the consequences.

The romantic aspect of the film was lacking in genuine connection, given that their relationship was built on lies. William remains unaware of Santos’s true identity, and even as he pursues her at the movie's end, their bond seems questionable in terms of its strength to prompt him to chase her halfway across the world.

This predicament could be due to the lack of screen time between the characters because their relationship was not the sole focus of the film.

A positive aspect that I do acknowledge is the adult humor sprinkled throughout. I found it to be mildly entertaining, avoiding the pitfalls of being overly cheesy or cringeworthy. Mendes demonstrates an impressive knack for injecting comedic charm into the narrative.

The saving grace of the film lies in its supporting cast, particularly Marisa Tomei, who delivers a standout performance as Santos’s ruthless art director. 

In essence, I believe it’s an exaggeration to claim that this film will revolutionize the 21st century romantic comedy genre. It feels like a recycled version of superior films, executed in the same manner. While there are redeeming qualities that make it enjoyable for fans of cheesy and predictable movies, those seeking something more unconventional may need to search elsewhere.


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