Irreplaceable You tells the story of Sam (Michiel Huisman) and Abbie(Gugu Mbatha-Raw), childhood sweethearts whose plans for their future fall apart when Abbie is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Spurned by a desire to have a part in his life after she’s gone, she sets out on a quest to find a suitable woman for him after she dies.
Right from the start I knew I was going to hate this movie. The tone is truly all over the place. Abbie and Sam are an idyllic couple, who just skip around and love each other all the time, until cancer strikes. Cancer is treated like a romantic bump more than a truly devastating experience for someone to go through, and it’s hard to get past. Abbie never looks sick through the whole movie, she just puts a hat on after the halfway mark. That is the movie’s biggest flaw, if you want to make a movie about cancer, you have to do it justice. Sometimes it tries to be a comedy, with some pretty cringe-inducing jokes and dialogue, between Sam and Abbie and Abbie and her cancer friend Myron (Christopher Walken). Christopher Walken though, despite serving as a companion for Abbie to vent to and explain all her plans to audience, delivers a decently charming performance. He made me smile a few times, taking the time he has left to enjoy the little things in life.
He’s a part of a cancer support group that Abbie begrudgingly joins. The group introduces us to a host of characters including Positive Kate (Kate McKinnon), who has taken an air of positivity to try and cope with her illness. She has good moments, but the whole group really isn’t fleshed out very well. They’re reduced to traits too much, the sweet but awkward one, the grumpy one, the positive one, etc. Myron gets fleshed out pretty well but we spend a lot of time with due to his proximity to Abbie. Then there’s the whole chemotherapy scenes that make chemotherapy look like a walk in the park. Where you can joke with your nurse and listen to tunes and have a great time. It’s just all the wrong tones at all the wrong times. It’s trying to be a quirky love comedy while also a movie about the effects cancer or illness has on different people. It just doesn’t deliver on either one.
They also kind of just drop the whole finding a mate after she’s dead storyline after it falls apart. Still, the second half is better than the first, with some really good and endearing scenes between her and Sam. The other problem is that the stakes are too low. Sam and Abbie have been together since they’ve been like eight years old. They’re obsessed with each other, you never believe for a second they will ever break up even in these extraordinary circumstances. They’re too much of a perfect couple so any rocky patch isn’t believable. Both actors are really engaging and powerful actors but I think the script and the glossy tone doesn’t do them any favors. This could have been a potentially good movie, but the reality it exists in simply isn’t the reality we live in.
Amy’s Recommendation: 5/10