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Endearing 'It Had to Be You' summons memories of great rom-coms of the past

Endearing 'It Had to Be You' summons memories of great rom-coms of the past
Cristin Milioti and Dan Soder star in the bubbly ny and off-kilter film "It Had to be You." (Samuel Goldwyn Films)

A memorable romantic comedy that stands to bring back the genre's good name, "It Had to Be You" is as funny, endearing and enjoyably off-kilter as its adorable star, Cristin Milioti.

Writer-director Sasha Gordon was inspired by her own fear of wedlock to tell this sweetly featherweight story of Sonia (Milioti), a neurotic commercial jingle composer who unravels when she discovers her kind, uncomplicated boyfriend, Chris (Dan Soder), is about to propose marriage.

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The tale's destination may be inevitable, but how Sonia and Chris get there makes for a swift, bubbly look at love, dreams, commitment, priorities and how we often stand in the way of our own happiness.

Evoking such rom-com standard bearers as "Annie Hall" and "When Harry Met Sally," plus taking a kind of satiric swipe at "Eat, Pray, Love," the film finds its own unique groove largely thanks to Gordon's creation of the haplessly lovable Sonia.

That Milioti proves such a hand-in-glove fit for her vividly drawn part and keeps us squarely on Sonia's side even when the character makes some terrible, if credible, choices, is perhaps the movie's greatest gift.

A strong supporting cast including Soder, Halley Feiffer, Mark Gessner, Kate Simses, Erica Sweany, Danny Deferrari and Rachel York; nice Manhattan and Rome locales and several lovely uses of the title song, round out this goodhearted journey.

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'It Had to Be You.'

MPAA rating: R for some sexual content and language.

Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes.

Playing: Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica

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