‘The Greatest Hits’ Movie Review: Emotional, Charming & Predictable Time-Travel Adventure

Romantic time travel movies have become a subgenre unto themselves. Recent films like About TimeMidnight in Paris, and The Time Traveler’s Wife are examples of this. Granted, It has been some time since those stories graced the big and small screen. The Greatest Hits hopes to remind audiences why they’re beloved stories in the first place.

The Story of The Greatest Hits

The Greatest Hits follows Harriet (Lucy Boynton) as she discovers a unique ability. Harriet can transport herself back through time when she listens to certain songs. Her ability helps her relive her romantic life with her deceased boyfriend, Max (David Corenswet). Harriet’s attempts to save him hit a speed bump when she meets a possible new love interest, David (Justin H. Min). With this new love, Harriet has to decide if her time-traveling mission is worth it. The results of which hope to deliver a moving and romantic swan song about love. Thankfully, the film manages to achieve those ambitions.

Lucy Boynton’s lead performance is the most significant success of The Greatest HitsBoynton has to deliver persistence in the film’s early portions. She’s driven to save Max (Corenswet) and does not know what to do in a world without him. Boynton accurately conveys it, allowing viewers to sympathize with her plight. Boynton’s ability to endear viewers with a simple look packs a powerful punch. This is shown when she activates her “power” of transporting through time. Set in the hipster-centric side of Los Angeles, the film risks being incredibly cliched. That primarily stems from a screenplay with a clever concept but an added layer of melodrama.

Lucy Boynton in The Greatest Hits
Lucy Boynton in The Greatest Hits. Image courtesy of Searchlight Pictures.

The movie leans into genre cliches

Writer and director Ned Benson leans into the genre’s cliches. Without spoilers, said cliches could make or break your viewing experience. That feeds into the biggest problem with the film: the story’s predictability. Throughout the film, it’s relatively easy to see where Harriet’s journey will go. This involves her interactions with the other men in her life, David (Min) and Max (Corenswet). Within these moments, the film severely manipulates the emotions of the audience. Such manipulation will deter some viewers from falling under the film’s dramatic spell. It’s the performances that help elevate the cliches. Besides BoyntonMin and Corenswet’s performances add an emotional and humanistic honesty.

As written, the David Corenswet character plays like the male equivalent of the “manic pixie dream girl.” He’s the perfect and almost fantastical boyfriend that anyone would want. The wrong actor could make that role feel entirely grating. Thankfully Corenswet applies a sense of needed charm to the part. Viewers understand that he’s far from perfect but know why Harriet loves him. In turn, it makes audiences sympathize with her mission of spending time with him. The efficiency of his performance also works with Harriet’s emotional arc in the film. He’s instantaneously likable, making the appearance of Justin H. Min’s character more detrimental.

David is a perfect contrast to Max’s more electric personality. Similarly to Harriet, David is going on the same emotional journey. While less energetic, he counterbalances Max’s much more lively energy, giving Harriet a chance to be vulnerable. Min’s humanity makes up for the more cliched moments of his side of the story. Granted, Like Max, he manages to remain consistently likable. It helps amplify the heartwarming quality of the two men in Harriet’s life. That is never making the film a story of Harriet needing to choose the right man to feel happy.

Lucy Boynton and David Corenswet
Lucy Boynton and David Corenswet. Image courtesy of Searchlight Pictures.

Predictable Story But Satisfying Arc in The Greatest Hits

The duality of those characters makes the central story all the more satisfying. Both men have something that Harriet needs in her life. That leaves Harriet wondering what would make her truly happy in the long run. Such an arc helps audiences understand her reasoning and certainly compels viewers to keep watching. Those willing to go along with that ride will reap the stirring emotional rewards of the story. For some, that will make this a worthwhile viewing experience. Others who have seen stories like this could feel Incredibly underwhelmed by the results. The element of time travel offers some impressive variations on a more cliched formula. As the story progresses, the heartwarming center remains forgiving.

Love and Emotional Honesty with Lucy Boynton and David Corenswet

Ned Benson clearly understands the type of story he wants to tell. This includes keeping the focus on the emotionality of the characters. While cliched, he knows his actors have to sell the more melodramatic moments. His direction amply conveys this, adding a sense of practicality to the time-travel element. The results of this craft are a fun, often moving, and quite emotional watch. 

The Greatest Hits keeps the mold of a romance film to a somewhat predictable degree. What makes it stand out is the emphasis on the performances. Justin H. MinDavid Cornswet, and Lucy Boynton help elevate the material. Each actor provides an emotional center, keeping audiences engaged with their stories. While there is a sense of simplicity, it doesn’t detract from the story’s emotional honesty. The results craft a charming, funny, and incredibly heartfelt cinematic experience. You couldn’t do better for something eventually coming to streaming and now in theaters. Movies like The Greatest Hits reminds viewers that cinema is more than just blockbuster entertainment. 

Justin Min and Lucy Boynton in The Greatest Hits
Justin Min and Lucy Boynton in The Greatest Hits. Image courtesy of Searchlight Pictures.

The Greatest Hits will stream on Hulu on April 12, 2024.

It’s currently playing in limited theaters. Learn more about the film at the Hulu website.

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