Netflix’s Spanish take on the rom-com uses its tried-and-true formula to create a film that’s barely fun enough to keep watching.
It’s no secret that Netflix has a formula when it comes to romantic comedies. In a span of a few months, they made movies such as The Kissing Booth, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Sierra Burgess is a Loser, The Perfect Date, Someone Great, and Set It Up. That’s not even the entire list. For several of these movies, they used the same actor: the jack of one trade Noah Centineo.
This formula has been wildly popular, and some of the above films are quite good, especially if you’re looking for something light and uncomplicated. In recent times, Netflix has produced more and more originals in different languages, giving minority communities their shot at using the formula. Netflix’s new Spanish rom-com Ready to Mingle (Solteras in Spanish) isn’t taking any big swings or making any leaps in the genre, but it’s doing just enough to keep your attention.
Ready to Mingle follows Ana (Cassandra Ciangherotti) as she struggles to find a husband, find love, and finally find herself. It’s a classic rom-com, starting with a breakup, and then tracking a barrage of bad dates until she finds a great guy in Diego (Juan Pablo Medina). She is an initially unlikeable heroine, slow to show affection, heart, or any sort of direction.
Directed and written by Luis Javier Henaine, the film has its moments and if enough people see it, the underworld of Twitter memes will have an absolute field day. The first 15 minutes feature almost every rom-com trope in the books: a wedding breakup, Ana getting too drunk at a party and making an awful speech, Ana going over drunk to her ex-boyfriend’s apartment, getting naked, and learning he’s engaged to someone else, and Ana even begging her ex to stay by holding onto his leg. It’s a whiplash of clichés, making it difficult not to laugh at our lead, even if what she’s saying isn’t all that funny.
Ana decides to take a “husband-finding workshop”, led expertly by Lucila (Gabriela de la Garza). Her class of fellow women is Bridesmaids-esque, and that’s the highest compliment I can give. They might play into previous tropes and Henaine is certainly borrowing from others, but they’re funny. The women work well together and keep the film afloat. The laughs are shared between the group and the camaraderie is palatable.
There’s no getting around some of the morality, though. The movie is almost shockingly traditional and heteronormative. It focuses on the looks of women, the disgust of men, and the need to lie in order to find love. The lessons given at the workshop are tough to stomach. Ana’s subsequent behavior is even tougher to rally around.
The redemption of Ana’s arc ending as a single woman is unfortunately not enough to salvage the several layers of poor messaging mashed together throughout the film. It feels too little too late, as the women have all found (a bit of) happiness in the last five minutes of the movie, which provides that warm feeling a rom-com can give, but it’s a little too empty and a little too sour to truly enjoy.
There is something to be said about Netflix giving an opportunity to a Mexican director and Mexican actors to be seen on a larger platform, though, and I’m still (barely) glad this film was made. It provided enough laughs to keep watching and it provided an important opportunity for more Spanish movies to be made and then seen in the future.
Ready to Mingle is problematic, formulaic, and a fine way to spend an evening. There’s one thing Netflix will keep churning out.
Based in Brooklyn, NY, Michael is a regular critic for Ready Steady Cut and also writes for Cinema Sentries, The Film Experience and Film Inquiry.