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‘Set It Up’ is a welcome respite from all the superheroes and crime thrillers and dinosaurs

Taye Diggs, a cast member in the CW series “All American”, poses for a portrait during the 2018 Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour, Monday, Aug. 6, 2018, in Beverly Hills, Calif. AP

Set It Up (Rated TV-14)

Cast: Taye Diggs, Lucy Liu, Glen Powell, Zoey Deutch

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Dwight’s Rating:  

Sometimes it’s better to just stay at home.

It’s August, and that generally means we’ve come to the end of the motion pictures that are part of the annual summer blockbuster season – a period which each year seems to begin earlier and earlier in the spring.

It appears now that this year’s last big summer flick was “Mission: Impossible – Fallout”. And for the next few weeks we’re in for a mix of the brainless, like this weekend’s wacky shark tale, “The Meg”, or artsy releases and slightly smaller or independent films like the new ‘Spike Lee joint’, “BlacKkKlansman”, also out this week (look for my review next week), and next weekend’s “Crazy Rich Asians” (keep your fingers crossed that this comes here).

But “the malaise of the summer” got underway last weekend. I was not inspired to watch the ridiculous looking and sounding “The Darkest Minds” (teens mysteriously develop powerful new abilities, and are on the run after being seen as a threat by the government). Nor was I particularly interested in Disney’s live-action/CGI “Christopher Robin” (now a grown-up family man living in London who receives a surprise visit from his old childhood pal, Winnie-the-Pooh, and eventually Tigger, Eeyore, Owl, Piglet, Rabbit, Kanga and Roo).

Am I yawning, or just drained from the triple digit heat index?

Thankfully, it’s 2018, and the multiplex is not the only game in town for new theatrical releases. Streaming service Netflix continues to try to rewrite the rules of entertainment, and has a steady “stream” of new movies each year.

The romantic comedy “Set It Up” was released in June, and features a simple enough premise: two overworked and underpaid assistants come up with a plan to get their bosses off their backs by setting them up with each other.

Think “The Devil Wears Prada” meets almost any romantic comedy from over the last 30-40 years (especially those from the 80s featuring orchestrated or fake relationships). There’s also the “Cyrano de Bergerac” element, the classic play that has been made into films countless times, and is referenced frequently in this one.

It’s hard for these type movies (i.e. romantic comedies) to be totally original these days, but there are some genuinely funny moments and amusing situations in “Set It Up”. Taye Diggs and Lucy Liu play the bosses from hell. If their characters are a bit one-dimensional, they are still incredibly stylish and enjoyable to watch, and their too-few scenes together are intriguing.

However, it’s the two main characters, those beleaguered assistants Charlie and Harper – played respectively by up-and-coming actors Glen Powell (TV’s “Scream Queens”) and Zoey Deutch (“Vampire Academy”) – who imbue the picture with an almost overwhelming but quite endearing cuteness.

Deutch, in particular, manages to miraculously avoid being incredibly annoying. Her character could have derailed the whole production in the hands of a less capable actress. Daughter of actress Lea Thompson (the “Back to the Future” trilogy), Deutch may remind you of her mom’s bubbly character on the NBC ‘90s sitcom “Caroline in the City”.

In the grand scheme of things, though, “Set It Up” is a summer lightweight. But it’s also a welcome respite from all the superheroes and crime thrillers and dinosaurs, and provides a relatively cool chance to stay home and chill after all this summer heat.

• Dwight Strachan is the host/producer of “Morning Blend” on Guardian Radio and station manager. He is a television producer and writer, and an avid TV history and film buff. Email and follow him on twitter @morningblend969.


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