It Had to Be You (2000) starring Natasha Henstridge, Michael Vartan, Michael Rispoli, Olivia d'Abo directed by Steven Feder Movie Review

It Had to Be You (2000)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Natasha Henstridge and Michael Vartan in It Had to Be You

It Wasn't Quite You

For those who loved the romantic comedy of "Sleepless in Seattle" and "You've Got Mail" the chances are you will also enjoy "It Had to Be You" as it uses the same sort of fate style storyline. In fact in many ways if "It Had to Be You" had starred Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan it could have been another big movie but instead it stars Michael Vartan and Natasha Henstridge who whilst making a nice on screen pairing lack that big star power. The star power is not the only issue which prevents "It Had to Be You" from being a big movie because whilst the first half is entertaining the second half struggles and sadly ends up becoming quite cheesy. But despite this if all you want is some fun romantic comedy which attempts to be both romantic and funny then "It Had to Be You" will entertain.

With his fiancee Claire (Joelle Carter) away on business, aspiring writer and former cop Charlie (Michael Vartan - Never Been Kissed) books into The Plaza Hotel to register for their wedding and do all the wedding planning stuff they were going to do together. At the same time school teacher Anna (Natasha Henstridge) also books into The Plaza Hotel to do exactly the same and like Charlie is on her own as her other half David is also busy with work. After meeting in the lift they discover that they happen to be there for the same reasons and decide to tackle all the wedding stuff together. But as the days pass they find themselves growing fond of each other and doubting whether they are marrying the right people. And it doesn't help that almost everyone they meet involved in the wedding industry seems to be anti-marriage including their own friends.

Michael Rispoli and Olivia d'Abo in It Had to Be You

So let's be honest "It Had to Be You" is a very obvious movie and doesn't disguise how obvious it is as we watch both Charlie and Anna book into the same hotel with both of them there to register for their individual weddings. You know what is going to happen as they bump into each other and end up going to various wedding planning events together where people mistake them as a couple. Of course they are destined to be together but as in any romantic comedy it's not that straight forward as both already have partners and so whilst at the end of the weekend of wedding planning have grown close still go their own ways although it would be cruel if they didn't end up together. And to be honest whilst the outcome of "It Had to Be You" borders on the cringe worthy it is still a nice ending.

But it does play out this unusual romantic weekend quite nicely from pleasant meet cutes to the humour of the various people they meet who despite working in the wedding industry appear anti marriage. And that is where "It Had to Be You" works quite well because the anti marriage humour of wedding planners, band managers and an old friend is for the most amusing. Yes there are times it is both cheesy and forced such as when they go to listen to various wedding singers but it does make you smile. And at the same time the weak subplot of their friends Henry and Tracy meeting also is an amusing distraction.

The trouble is that "It Had to Be You" is a movie of two halves with the first half being the better as they innocently go out to these various wedding events together. You warm to them as a couple because they have so much in common and enjoy being with each other, you even like the fact that unwittingly they have worked in the same district as each other without seeing each other. But sadly the second half switches track where we have Charlie tentively acting on his feelings and the corny lines and cliche romantic carriage rides becomes far too painful. It's as if the first half was written by someone who wanted to make it a lovely romance yet the second half was written by someone who just wanted to slot in cliche scenes from other movies. And talking of which there is even a bit of "Pretty Woman" about it when Anna has to deal with a snobbish assistant in a posh jewellery store who treats her like a hooker because of how she is dressed.

As for the acting well Michael Vartan and Natasha Henstridge do make for a very attractive couple and you do find yourself warming to them as over a few days they obviously fall for each other. But it all feels so familiar and it's probably because "It Had to Be You" feels like Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan territory with both Vartan and Henstridge playing their characters in a very similar manner.

What this all boils down to is that "It Had to Be You" is a very pleasant and enjoyable romantic comedy which is equal parts romance and comedy. It is all very obvious and the second half suffers from some painful writing but it has a wonderful charm about it which makes it worth watching especially if you are after something which is in the same style as "Sleepless in Seattle".