Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell Shine in ‘Anyone But You,’ a Rom-Com in Which the Com's as Strong as the Rom

A surplus of hotness doesn't sink this winning riff on Much Ado About Nothing.
Glen Powell and Sydney Sweeney star in Anyone But You.
Brook Rushton

Romantic comedy stars don't necessarily need to be extraordinarily hot for a rom-com to work. Meg Ryan is gorgeous, of course, but in her best rom-coms her looks are almost downplayed as she's swathed in layers of the best in dowdy '90s fashion. Meanwhile, Billy Crystal wasn't exactly ready to pose shirtless for Men's Health in When Harry Met Sally. (No shame to Billy Crystal, who is both really attractive in that movie and an eternal fall fashion icon.) The point is that rom-coms are built less on astounding, sculpted-by-the-gods looks than they are on chemistry and personality.

But the poster for Anyone But You, a new romcom in theaters this weekend, features the film’s two stars, Glen Powell and Sydney Sweeney, in swim attire, their tight bodies glistening in the sun. While movies like these still thrive on streaming, they’ve become few and far between on the big screen (barring exceptions like last year's Ticket to Paradise, which paired icons Julia Roberts and George Clooney as a divorced couple giving it another go.) So you can’t blame the studio for leading with its hotties. But Powell and Sweeney together are almost too much, and it makes you wonder: Can these incredibly beautiful people actually generate the charisma required to make this genre work?

I'm happy to report that the answer is “Yes.” Sweeney and Powell are delightful as well as smokin’ in this loose adaptation of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, one of the most charming big screen rom-coms in years. Sweeney and Powell play Bea and Ben—riffs on the Bard's Beatrice and Benedict. They meet cute; she's a frazzled law student trying to get access to a coffee shop bathroom and he's a banker ordering beverages. He helps her out, they banter, and then spend the night platonically together after eating grilled cheese. But, despite their great conversation, she sneaks out in the morning.

He's hurt and badmouths her to a pal, an indiscretion which she overhears as she's trying to return, realizing her mistake. The next time they meet it's because her sister (Hadley Robinson) is dating his friend (Alexandra Shipp), and their animosity is palpable. Soon enough the happier couple is getting married, and Bea and Ben are both attending a gorgeous destination wedding in Australia to celebrate them.

Their friends and family orchestrate a plan to get them together so their bickering won't disturb the festivities, but Bea and Ben catch onto that and make their own plan: They'll get together to appease everyone and to make Ben look more attractive to his ex Margaret (Charlee Fraser).

This is all classic rom-com stuff, but what makes Anyone But You truly fun is how it really goes for it with its gags. Too often rom-coms rely more on the rom than the com; this one finds a nice balance between the two, with a heaping dose of innuendo. One of the first great set pieces comes on the plane when Sweeney's Bea, relegated to coach, decides to steal Ben's first class cookie while he sleeps. She leans over him and accidentally hits the recline button, getting her sweatshirt stuck in the seat. Clearly zonked out on some sort of drug, he remains fast asleep as she tries to free herself, cookie in mouth, with moves that look suspiciously sexual.

Another solid comic moment arrives thanks to a rogue spider that has made its way into Ben's swim trunks forcing Powell to strip down and Sweeney to examine his crevices. The physical humor is buoyed by some terrific supporting performances from giant Australian man Joe Davidson as Margaret's new beau named Beau, as well as a very amusing team-up between veteran Aussie actor Bryan Brown and Lil Dicky hypeman GaTa, who makes the most of a retrograde Black Best Friend role.

But everything really rests on the toned shoulders of Sweeney and Powell, who not only throw themselves with gusto into the silly scenarios, but also convincingly portray people who are really into one another. Anyone But You invites you to ogle their bodies—there are multiple scenes of Powell just working out—but it also blessedly is not afraid of actual sex. Yes, these characters want to bone, and that's why we are rooting for them.

Both Powell and Sweeney are in transitional phases of their careers. Sweeney has proved she's a star on television with multiple Emmy nominations for Euphoria and The White Lotus, but now she's seeing if she can conquer movies. Here, she pulls it off beautifully with a mix of earnestness and sly winking at the camera. Powell has been a blockbuster supporting player in the likes of Top Gun: Maverick. Here, he's testing his leading man mettle and it's working. (He’s also a sight to behold in the upcoming Richard Linklater film Hit Man, a fall film-festival standout which Powell co-wrote.) He has what the kids are calling "rizz," offering serious smolder and pulling off jokes about his wild times at Goldman.

Anyone But You should serve as a calling card and proof that, yeah, these two are ready to take over the big screen. Yeah, they're hot. But they're also good.