Gaming

Despite A Boring Title, This Delightful Camila Mendes-Led Rom-Com Is Anything But

Summary

  • Upgraded
    is a well-crafted and entertaining romantic comedy with colorful characters and snappy dialogue.
  • Camila Mendes and Archie Renaux have excellent chemistry as the lead couple, making their romance believable.
  • The film’s success is due to its well-cast actors and interesting characterizations, making it a fun and enjoyable experience.



Prime Video’s latest, Upgraded, starring Riverdale’s Camila Mendes as an ambitious intern who masquerades as her boss is surprisingly more entertaining than expected. Admittedly, I had very low expectations for Upgraded. I was somewhat disappointed with Prime Video’s The Other Zoey, which had a similar premise; it has a ridiculously dull title; and rom-coms are very hit or miss these days.


Upgraded temp logo movie poster

Upgraded is a romantic comedy film by director Carlson Young. Camila Mendes stars as Ana, a young artist brought to London during her internship along with her handsome and wealthy boss, William.

Pros

  • The rom-com is suprisingly good despite a simple premise
  • Camila Mendes and Archie Renaux have wonderful chemistry
  • Upgraded has charm and makes for an enjoyable watch
Cons

  • Ana and Claire’s relationship could have been further explored


However, Upgraded, directed by Carlson Young and written by Christine Lenig, Justin Matthews, and Luke Spencer Roberts, is a delightful treat because, despite how simple it is, it actually seems to be crafted with care and aims to be a fun time. Though the comedy is hardly laugh-out-loud funny, this amusing romp about mistaken identity has plenty of great moments.


Upgraded Is A Charming Romantic Comedy


The film begins with your typical rom-com opening: Ana Santos (Mendes) is not in a great position in life, an overworked intern who is desperate to get the attention of her diva boss and is sleeping on her sister’s futon. Her brother-in-law hounds her about packing it up and returning to Florida to join the Marines. Undeterred, Ana focuses on impressing her strangely accented boss, Claire Dupont (Marisa Tomei). Ana’s love for art is well articulated in the film’s intro.


It’s a recurring thing in the movie — Ana showing off her art skills. And as she rightly defends her craft, the film has fun with it by having her sister and brother-in-law not get it. The sequence is funny, setting up one of the movie’s best qualities — its characters. The characterizations are exciting and varied, sometimes cliché, but still enjoyable. Upgraded finds its momentum when we meet our leading man, Will (Shadow and Bone’s Archie Renaux), and his mother, Catherine (Lena Olin).

Camila Mendes & Archie Renaux Lead A Charismatic, Well-Written Ensemble


Renaux is sufficiently utilized as a romantic lead, though he has a relatively limited arc. There could have been more of him, but his scenes with Mendes are compelling. Their chemistry is pleasant, and their dialogue never reads as fake or phony. They feel like people who meet under the right circumstances and fall for each other. Several rom-coms skip past the part where we actually spend time with the lead couple getting to know each other, but the pair’s playful banter in Upgraded reveals enough about them to make us believe in their romance. Screenwriting, eh? It’s pretty essential.


Casting is, too, as Renaux and Mendes also have excellent chemistry with Olin, who’s very involved in the plot. Olin and Anthony Head, in particular, make Upgraded a worthwhile experience. They play funny, engaging people who are artfully crafted. Renaux and Mendes hold their own opposite the two legendary actors and blend seamlessly into their world. Mendes also has the added pressure of going toe-to-toe with Marisa Tomei, whose presence is always enjoyable. Upgraded’s success is largely due to its well-cast actors and interesting characterization.

Upgraded
is a delightful treat because, despite how simple it is, it actually seems to be crafted with care and aims to be a fun time.


A small shout-out to Derry Girls’ Saoirse-Monia Jackson, following up a thankless role in The Flash. She is delightful and adds a dash of excitement, though I wish she was third-wheeling Ana, as the movie could certainly use a few extra laughs. Rachel Matthews is as entertaining as ever. She nails that spiteful, privileged, mean girl act quite well, and I don’t mean that sarcastically. She was a highlight in the Happy Death Day movies.


The Night Agent’s Fola Evans-Akingbola is also comical, getting a huge laugh out of me during a moment when Ana’s luck inevitably turns around. Matthews and Evans-Akingbola are present enough to leave an impression without upending the precarious balance. They add to the screenwriter’s colorful characters, helping bolster Ana’s trope-heavy and slightly uninteresting romance.

Underestimating Upgraded Is a Mistake

Ana and William laugh together in a club in Upgraded


Then we have Tomei attempting to play a knock-off Miranda Priestley. Luckily, her screen time is minimal, limiting the risk of outstaying her welcome. There is an endearing subplot surrounding her character that could have been delved into more deeply to give Ana’s big moment in the third act more impact. This would be the film’s biggest blindspot, as it doesn’t integrate Ana’s relationship and perception of Claire effectively. For what is otherwise a fun little romp, this is hardly a fault worth dwelling on.


Don’t underestimate Upgraded. The script is snappy and entertaining, the characters are colorful, Mendes and Renaux carry the romance very well, and the film is a fun escapist rom-com that gives exactly what it needs to provide us with a good time. Upgraded may be poorly titled, but it has the fun trappings of an engaging romantic comedy, perfectly timed for Valentine’s Day.


Upgraded

Release Date
February 9, 2024

Director
Carlson Young

Cast
Camila Mendes , Archie Renaux , Marisa Tomei , Lena Olin , Anthony Head , Saoirse-Monica Jackson

Writers
Christine Lenig , Justin Matthews , Luke Roberts , Karl Hall

Studio(s)
Gulfstream Pictures , Luber Roklin Entertainment , Tempo Productions

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