‘What Happens Later’ Review: Meg Ryan Revisits Meet-Cute | ET REALITY


Few can compete with Meg Ryan’s romantic comedy resume. As the star of three classics written by Nora Ephron – “When Harry Met Sally,” “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail” – she could well be the mascot of the genre’s golden era of the late ’80s and ’80s. 90. “What Happens Later,” which she directs and stars in, is a fitting homecoming for a seasoned professional.

Ryan and his co-star, David Duchovny, play Willa and Bill, former lovers who meet at a small regional airport while the two wait out a blizzard. (They share the name “W. Davis,” and identity confusion is part of what leads to their cute reunion.) With their connecting flights delayed indefinitely, the exes quickly catch up on what’s happened in the 25 years since they last met. cross Roads. Bill has a stable job and family in Boston; Willa is a massage therapist and chakra healer in Austin. The conflicting personalities lead to petty disputes and some harsh words, but their banter confirms that the chemistry is still there.

“What Happens Later,” which Ryan wrote with Kirk Lynn and Steven Dietz (based on Dietz’s play “Shooting Star”), seems deliberately lost in time. Their story is bottled within the liminal space of the airport (its exact location remains a mystery), which puts the focus on the two protagonists trying to reconcile their past with their present. Ryan adds a dash of magical realism, turning the airport intercom into a sassy voiceover that responds to Willa and Bill. These fantasy elements are mostly played for laughs, but the dreaminess and isolation of the darkened airport offer an excuse for Willa and Bill to open up to each other and consider whether their meeting was truly determined by fate.

Featuring Ryan and Duchovny, both in their early 60s, “What Happens Later” is decidedly a romantic comedy for people of a certain age, and some familiar, even tired, tropes of that subgenre appear here. Bill complains endlessly about the saccharine pop versions of rock songs playing over airport speakers—“It used to be rhythm, not algorithm,” he complains—over a jaunty version of Third Eye Blind, and he has complaints. Similar comments about cancel culture and pronouns. On the other hand, the maturity of its characters allows “What Happens Later” to explore themes not typically found in films about younger, wide-eyed couples. At one point, Bill and Willa talk candidly about a miscarriage they suffered when they lived together: both the pain of the event and all the thornier emotions each went through.

As you would expect from a what-if movie, “What Happens Later” is filled with sentimentality and poised to be a comforting snow day watch for the upcoming holiday season. While it’s unlikely to join the pantheon of romantic comedies, its charming leads and humorous truths invoke the spirit of Ephron, to whom the film is dedicated. It’s a fitting tribute to her, delivered by perhaps the person most qualified to create one.

What happens next?
Rated R for adult themes and swearing in airport pop music. Duration: 1 hour 45 minutes. On cinemas.

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