Time-traveling romance has a spotty history (just ask HBO), but like “Groundhog Day,” that doesn’t stop variations on the theme from popping up again and again. Enter “Meet Cute,” an unhelpfully generic title for a movie most notable for pairing Kaley Cuoco and Pete Davidson, in a concept with barely enough meat for a “Black Mirror” episode, which probably explains his arrival through Peacock.
Cuoco’s Sheila approaches Davidson’s Gary in a bar, and the two spend a romantic night getting to know each other, even if their behavior occasionally feels a little off. That’s before she explains that she has access to a time machine (placed at her local nail salon for some reason), which allows her to travel back a day, over and over again, reliving and editing their first date.
Although Gary is understandably skeptical, he is also irresistibly drawn to her. “We’re just working,” Sheila tells him, a theory she can put to the test over and over again, changing the nature of their interaction in small and not-so-small ways and seeing how it plays out.
The formula is obviously full of potential, which explains why writers keep coming back to it, from “50 First Dates” to the recent Andy Samberg film “Palm Springs.” However, the concept is also fraught with danger, starting with the vaguely cruel aspect, the longer the scenario drags on (even in a 90-minute film) and the question of how to break free from the circle in some creative way , a challenge that ” Meet Cute” (directed by Alex Lehmann from the scenario of Noga Pnueli) cannot completely overcome.
“It’s okay for things to be messy sometimes,” Sheila tells Gary, a line that has some meaning in the larger story, but doesn’t necessarily apply so well in these kinds of exercises.
After following “The Big Bang Theory” with a breakout vehicle (for a season, anyway) in “The Flight Attendant,” Cuoco has demonstrated her chops as a producer and star, and she’s really the focus of the story As for Davidson, he’s found no shortage of movie roles, but the “Saturday Night Live” alum seems caught in a different kind of loop, one that still makes him more celebrated for his off-screen relationships than his professional endeavors.
Honestly, the highlight value of their teaming alone probably represents a modest win for NBC’s streaming service. That said, it would have been nice if “Meet Cute” had done a little more to capitalize on the attention, though as it stands, there’s no going back in time to fix that.
“Meet Cute” premieres Sept. 21 on Peacock.