Home Theatre: You've Got This - The parent trap
A fortnightly column that focuses on notable content available on the streaming platforms around you, and this week it is You've Got This, streaming on Netflix
Romcoms are the comfort food of cinema. The very predictability of the genre is what works in its favour. It's reassuring and safe. Particularly when faced with the myriad hardships of real life, it's nice to be able to spend an hour or two in a pretend universe where we know things will be okay in the end — where love will win. Not all romcoms are equal though. It's easy to play it too safe and thus become boring when working with such a set formula. Netflix's new Mexican romcom, You've Got This (Ahí te Encargo), changes things up a fair bit while still sticking to the basic structure of the genre.
For starters, the couple at the centre of You've Got This is already a couple, married even, at the start of the film. So there's none of the usual falling in love followed by circumstances keeping them apart. Their relationship, however, does run on to the rocks because one of them wants to have a child, while the other doesn't. Now, in the general course of things, it would be the woman who is portrayed as wanting a child. You've Got This twists this trope around to make Alex the one who desperately wants a baby, while his wife Ceci is too focused on her work to leave her time or the desire to be a mother. What's notable is that the film doesn't make Ceci out to be the bad guy for this. She just has different priorities in life and there's no judgement about this choice.
The overturning of stereotypes extends to the protagonists' careers too. Ceci is an ambitious executive riding fast up the corporate ladder. She is so good at her job that she's tapped to be a partner at the firm at her young age. Alex, meanwhile, works at an ad agency. And though his work is 'impeccable', he cares more about starting a family than about advancing his career. In fact, he keeps bringing up the topic so persistently, I found myself annoyed on Ceci's behalf. As she puts it to her friends, he's like a stubborn kid begging for a puppy and promising that he will pick up its poop; only for the mom to end up doing it. He thinks all one needs to take care of a baby is love.
However, it's hard to stay annoyed at Alex because we see he has a really kind heart. It's this kind heart of his that ends up introducing the conflict in their relationship. Alex is unexpectedly saddled with a baby that he needs to care for and when he brings the baby home, instead of telling Ceci about it, he tries to hide the baby at first, making matters worse. Alex and his friend Rafa trying to take care of the baby results in some of the funniest scenes in the film. The entire baby poop sequence had me in splits.
The film dips a little into melodramatic territory with the baby's mother, but it works and actually gives a bit more depth to the story and to Alex's character. We see him as more than the whiny kid he seems to be at the start. For me, the most endearing thing about You've Got This is Alex's growth from someone who pooh-poohs Ceci's concern that she is not ready to be a mother by saying women have a "natural talent that triggers when they become mothers," to becoming the person who finally understands and asks, "What if I'm a dad, without forcing you to be a mom?" That last line is my favourite of the film. All too often, it's the other way around. The mother is the primary caregiver and the father is only nominal, and we accept that without blinking an eye. Why can't it be the other way around? I loved that Alex doesn't make Ceci compromise her career for the sake of their relationship. This is the kind of happily ever after I can truly get behind.