Note: I received a free copy of “Just Like the Movies” from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. And this review will contain spoilers because the only thing keeping me from giving this book a higher review would be the ending.
“Just Like the Movies” by Kelly Fiore was certainly exactly what the title and the brief blurb would lead you to expect: a story that reads exactly like how a romantic comedy would play out on the screen. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you like cheesy romantic comedies, which I do. But, unfortunately, there wasn’t necessarily anymore substance than there is in a 90 minute movie.
The gist of the story is that, after a series of random events, the studious and underappreciated Lily and the track star with the hot boyfriend, Marijke end up forging a friendship after running away from a viewing of Titanic. You see Lily has an unrequited crush on a boy who doesn’t even really know she exists while Marijke’s boyfriend is wanted by every hot blooded female in the school and he seems to like that. So the two girls decide on a plan, to recreate scenes from popular romantic comedies and use them to get Lily’s crush to notice her and to get Marijke’s boyfriend to finally return those three little words.
One thing I was glad of with this book, the fact that I had watched all but one of the movies they mentioned (and that was one I’d seen recreated on other shows). The references were probably enough that it would have taken away from my enjoyment of the book if I hadn’t seen them so that might be a deterrent to some readers. To appeal to more readers perhaps the movie tropes could have been used but without mention of specific titles and movie characters? That way it would have been a need little inside joke if you knew the movie but you wouldn’t feel excluded if you hadn’t. There are plenty of romantic comedy situations that are used over and over again and would have gotten the same points across.
I figured with the title of the movie and the plot that there would be happily ever afters for both couples involved but I was honestly hoping for something else. The turn around of Lily’s love interest was too quick and she accepted it to easily. Marijke and her boyfriends relationship bothered me the whole way through because, as she cited when she finally did break up with him, their love was unequal. She was basically obsessed with him (which rubbed me the wrong way…shouldn’t we have more stories where the relationship is healthy?) while he didn’t seem to care much for her, only when she got mad and he needed to apologize. I was glad when they broke up and she was able to become her own person. But then they, of course, got back together right before prom. Just in time to be named prom king and queen. Sigh.
I had hoped, and would have given more stars, if the book had broken some of the whole romantic comedy plot lines. By the middle of it I was hoping Lily and Marijke would realize the guys were holding them back and they’d decide to go to prom together, as friends and be very happy with their decision. But that didn’t happen and the book became one big, girl depends on guy cliche.
But it was cute and it was a quick read so all in all I did enjoy it.