The Idea of You : A Couple’s Night of “Stream and Chill”

The Idea of You : A Couple’s Night of “Stream and Chill”

Photo by Courtesy of Prime Video – © Prime Video

Solene Marchand is an early Millennial, so she can maybe partially relate to Gen X. Hayes Campbell is Gen Z, but he is relatively early Gen Z, for what that is worth. There is only sixteen years difference between them, in contrast to the full two decades separating their respective ages in Robinne Lee’s source novel. Regardless, Marchand is not prepared for the media firestorm that erupts when she starts romancing the famous boy band singer in Michael Showalter’s “The Idea of You,” which is now streaming on Prime Video.

All her life, Marchand has put the interests of others before her own. First it was Daniel, her unfaithful dog of a husband. Currently, she diligently works on behalf of the artists and employees who rely on her elite hipster art gallery. Yet, her top priority will always be her teen daughter Izzy.

Once again, Marchand agrees to clean-up after he ex, when he bails on accompanying Izzy and her generic friends to Coachella, where he bought them all VIP all access passes for boy band August Moon. They were Izzy’s favorite in junior high, but now she witheringly dismisses them as “so seventh grade.” Nevertheless, Marchand insists they attend the meet-and-great, to humor her father, which is how she encounters Campbell in a classic rom-com meet-cute.

The Idea of You 2Photo by Courtesy of Prime Video – © Prime Video

Even if you are not a fan of rom-coms, there is still something very endearing in the way this film presents fandom during the first act. Supposedly, Izzy and her friends have “grown out” of August Moon, when they see them face-to-face, all their old fandom comes rushing back. We all have guilty affection for the pop culture of our youth. Showalter and co-screenwriter Jennifer Westfeldt rightly absolve viewers of any shame regarding our August Moon equivalents. The band’s original songs are also perfectly cheesy, in a brilliantly nostalgic way.

Hayes’s initial pursuit of Marchand also culminates in a surprisingly steamy pay-off. Unfortunately, the rest of the film largely follows a predictable rom-com template. For a while, she enjoys touring with Hayes, believing they can keep their relationship a secret, but anyone who has seen “Notting Hill” will know better.

Nobody could argue this film lacks charisma. Anne Hathaway is perfectly cast as Marchand, lighting up the screen with charm that harkens back to her early rom-com breakout successes. Nicholas Galitzine certainly looks the part and portrays the twenty-four-old heartthrob with greater maturity than viewers might expect. Ironically, that might be part of the film’s problem.

The Idea of YouPhoto by Courtesy of Prime Video – © Prime Video

By maturing Hayes to twenty-four, an age universally recognized as past the threshold of adulthood, Showalter and Westfeldt largely water-down Lee’s themes. Beyond the awkward symmetry of twenty being exactly half of forty, the movie Hayes may safely drink and participate in any other adult activities, unlike the more youthful character of the book. Frankly, for viewers who have seen their share of boy bands come and go, Marchand’s mere sixteen-year age advantage over Hayes hardly seems worth trolling her over.

Regardless, the attractive co-leads persuasively sell their romantic ups and downs. Unfortunately, the film’s greatest deficiency is its lack of memorable supporting characters. Daniel the ex-husband is a hypocritical caricature Reid Scott is powerless to humanize or elevate. Likewise, Ella Rubin plays Izzy as a cliched angsty teen, whose pretentious posturing will likely elicit eye-rolls from more grown-up viewers. Aside from Hayes, the rest of August Moon act like such entitled brats, it is hard to understand why he stays in the band, beyond the obvious lure of money and “fringe benefits.”


Frankly, “The Idea of You” would have benefited from one or two additional voices, providing commentary that reflects the audience’s perspective. Without that, the film is much more rom than com. It does not have to be funny, but it would be nice if Hathaway and Galitzine were not forced to do all the work, without any supporting help.

Fortunately, they work very well together, which is the film’s principal strength, trump card, and saving grace. It is hard not to root for a predictable rom-com ending, even if you have read Lee’s novel. It is a bit of a disappointment the second half of “The Idea of You” is not as energetic and clever as the first. Yet, it is a dependable option for a couple’s night of “stream and chill.” Recommended for the musical nostalgia and romantic chemistry, “The Idea of You” is now available on Prime Video.

Grade: B-

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