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Upgraded review: An uninspired run-of-the-mill rom-com

The Prime Video original film is Devil Wears Prada meets a Hallmark rom-com

Upgraded review: An uninspired run-of-the-mill rom-com

Last Updated: 12.10 AM, Feb 10, 2024


Story: Ana (Camila Mendes), a struggling art intern, is invited to accompany her boss to London for a work event – much to Ana’s pleasant surprise. She has a chance meeting a wealthy young Englishman, who is led to believe that Ana is the director of a major art auction.

Review: Rom-coms may remain a popular genre for years to come. However, there is an evident dearth of big studios investing in the genre with Hollywood A-listers in recent years. There could be several things that have contributed to this marginal decline. With the surge in popularity of streaming platforms, popular television stars have become the preferred choice to lead rom-coms. Camila Mendes, best known for Riverdale and her underrated performance in Do Revenge, plays the lead role of Ana in Upgraded.


The film also stars Academy Award-winner Marisa Tomei, revered Swedish actress Lena Olin, and Shadow and Bone star Archie Renaux in prominent roles. And to round off this fairly impressive ensemble is comedian Andrew Schulz and star of the underrated Netflix comedy series Derry Girls, Saoirse-Monica Jackson. It’s just a shame that Schulz and Jackson only feature in a limited capacity.


Despite boasting a talented ensemble, Upgraded is an uninspired rom-com that has borrowed elements from countless other films that have come before it. The most obvious of them is Marisa Tomei playing an archetype of Meryl Streep’s Miranda Priestly from the iconic film The Devil Wears Prada. While paying homage to a popular character is certainly acceptable, the character written for Upgraded lacks the depth and nuance required to pull it off. It is a tremendous shame considering Tomei could’ve easily brought a fresh spin to the character. Camila Mendes’ Ana on the other hand has more potential, but her arc is derailed within the first act.


As soon as Ana decides to lie to the charming young Englishman about her position at her company, the entire plot of the film becomes far too predictable. This puts additional pressure on the narrative’s humour to be exceptionally well-written, but unfortunately, it is not. Ana’s trip to London partly takes the form of a Cinderella-esque turn after her colleagues decide to exploit her lack of experience and torment her. Archie Renaux’s character William is written as if he has been lifted straight from a Hallmark film. Whereas Anthony Head, who recently starred in Ted Lasso, offers a bit of comic relief, largely thanks to his performance.


The final act of the film becomes a pointless exercise for the audience as the story comes to a conclusion just like how most would’ve predicted. It can argued that most rom-coms end with an identical ‘happily ever after’ storyline, but the journey towards this familiar ending should be worthwhile. While Upgraded is certainly not a product of poor filmmaking, it is unequivocally bland.

Verdict: Despite the best efforts of its cast, Upgraded is a generic rom-com with a familiar meet-cute story and oversaturated tropes. While the film can be construed as a reasonably pleasant comfort watch, the underdeveloped characters and predictable story negate one’s intrigue about the narrative.



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