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Film / Set It Up

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"We know everything about them. What they like, what they don't like. We control their entire schedule. We are the men behind the curtain. We can get them to do anything."

Set it Up is a Romantic Comedy directed by Claire Scanlon, starring Zoey Deutch, Glen Powell, Lucy Liu, and Taye Diggs. Pete Davidson, Tituss Burgess, and Meredith Hagner appear in supporting roles.

Harper (Deutch) and Charlie (Powell) are the respective Beleaguered Assistants to the stern, ambitious Kirsten (Liu), a prominent sports journalist, and the tyrannical Rick (Diggs), a venture capitalist. Since they know everything about their bosses' lives, Harper and Charlie scheme to get Kirsten and Rick together in the hopes that the newfound relationship will get their bosses off their backs. However, the plan doesn't go as either of them expect.

The film was released worldwide on Netflix on June 15, 2018.

This film contains examples of:

  • Almost Kiss: Charlie and Harper get such a moment when they're sharing pizza on Charlie's bedroom floor and make extended eye contact, but Harper — who is drunk — wisely leaves before any kissing can happen.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Something is up with "Creepy Tim", who gleefully keeps plants in his room knowing they'll die, clearly doesn't understand social cues, and says some Cloud Cuckoo Lander things, but it's never clarified.
  • Analogy Backfire: Charlie attempts to compare dating with taking care of salamanders, but it doesn't go very well.
  • Ascended Fangirl: Kirsten was Harper's hero before the latter started as her assistant.
  • Bad Date: Rick and Kirsten go to a Korean barbecue restaurant, which resulted in Rick eating raw meat (because he somehow assumed it was steak tartare) and throwing up on the grill. They're both very upset about it the next day.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment:
    • When Harper lets slip that people call Tim "creepy".
      Creepy Tim: People call me "Creepy Tim"?
      Harper: No.
      Creepy Tim: I love it.
    • Harper confides in Charlie that she fears that she was so focused on becoming a great assistant that she lost all her writing skills. Charlie tells her that that couldn't possibly be true — she's a terrible assistant.
  • Bathos: Charlie dramatically leaves a restaurant demanding to get a taxi because he needs to stop Kirsten and Rick's wedding, but he realizes the flight is in four hours and he's actually in no rush. Cut to him recommending the Met to a tourist, realizing he did the 'over-dick-around thing', and actually rushing to the airport.
  • Beleaguered Assistant:
    • Rick and Kirsten run Charlie and Harper dry every day, to the point that Harper doesn't have time to focus on her writing and Charlie's personal life is at a standstill. The entire premise is to set up their bosses together in hopes of getting a break from work.
    • The opening is a split-screen montage of beleaguered assistants everywhere around the city, fulfilling tedious and occasionally inconvenient demands by their bosses (one assistant breaks up with his employer's girlfriend for him, another is forced to drop off a urine sample at the doctor's).
  • Best Friend: Harper and Charlie are both roommates with their respective best friends, Becca and Duncan, who provide advice and emotional support throughout the film.
  • Beta Couple:
    • Played with. In their attempts to get the volatile Rick and Kirsten together, Charlie and Harper's easier-developing mutual attraction would make them the Beta to their bosses' Alpha — but they're the protagonists instead of side characters. The "Alpha" couple implodes by the film's end, while Harper and Charlie end the film with a Big Damn Kiss.
    • The straightest example is Becca and her fiance Mike, who are very in love. They serve as a direct contrast to Harper's own messy personal life.
  • Betty and Veronica: Suze is the emotionally distant, model-beautiful Veronica to Harper's dorky, down-to-earth Betty for Charlie's Archie.
  • Big Applesauce: The film takes place in New York, and features locations like the Yankees Stadium and the High Line.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Creepy Tim tells Charlie and Harper that he loves "love in enclosed spaces" when agreeing to lock Kirsten and Rick in an elevator together. In the credits, he sees Charlie and Harper kissing on the sidewalk on security camera footage, and concludes that he loves "love in open spaces" too.
    • When Harper shows up late to the Yankees game, she explains to Charlie she did the "over-dick-around thing" where someone arrives early then decides to waste time doing meaningless activities until they wind up being late anyway. Charlie tells her that's not actually a thing. Later, after he breaks up with Suze and rushes to stop Rick and Kirsten at the airport before their wedding, he realizes he has four hours to spare. He is then seen grabbing some food and chatting with a tourist... only to look at his watch and realize he did the "over-dick-around thing" before rushing off.
    • Harper and Charlie have their Meet Cute because Harper didn't have any cash on her, leading to her arguing with a delivery driver until Charlie buys the food from him. At the climax, when Harper finally finishes her article while sitting in the Mexican restaurant she and Charlie scammed earlier for free chips, she promises the server "the greatest tip in the history of the service industry"...only to realize again she has no cash, leading the server to tell her to "leave and never return".
  • Bring My Brown Pants: The claustrophobic delivery man locked in the elevator with Kirsten and Rick starts stripping and announcing that he's about to pee. Kirsten correctly identifies it as stress incontinence but is no less disgusted when he relieves his bladder into the glasses he's delivering.
  • Buffy Speak:
    • "The over-dick-around thing," in which you are early but waste time doing meaningless things until you wind up late.
    • Harper and Charlie's scheme is referred to as "Cyrano-ing" and "Parent Trapping."
  • Can't Hold Her Liquor: Harper gets drunk very quickly because her hectic work schedule has forced her to miss out on social drinking and she has a low tolerance as a result.
  • Commonality Connection: When Harper and Duncan meet for the first time, they instantly bond by making fun of the very short shorts Charlie is wearing to impress Suze:
    Charlie: You know what, stop it. You're not friends.
    Harper: (to Duncan) I feel like we're becoming friends.
    Duncan: Yeah, we're friends.
  • Convenient Slow Dance: Charlie and Harper are having fun at Becca's engagement party when a slow song comes on. They of course wind up slow dancing, which winds up sparking some feelings.
  • Country Matters: Kirsten admits she's been "cunty", to Harper's discomfort.
    Kirsten: Don't be one of those women who can't say the word 'cunt'.
  • Deadpan Snarker: It's a World of Snark, but Duncan has some especially good zingers.
    Charlie: Duncan! You know Suze.
    Duncan: [to Suze] Yeah, I heard you were coming... and I still showed up, so.
  • Disposable Fiancé: Suze is a very transparent Disposable Girlfriend; Duncan claims that Charlie doesn't know anything about her and Charlie admits that the two of them don't have any meaningful conversations. Sure enough, their relationship doesn't last the movie.
  • Disposable Intern: Intern Bo, whom Rick fires (and calls a pencil-dick while he's at it) just for showing him mail from his ex-wife.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: In the last scene, when Charlie confesses his feelings to Harper, she tearfully reminds him that he was willing to keep Kirsten in the dark about Rick's intentions for the sake of his own career, he's repeatedly demonstrated himself to be immature for his age, and he wears suits to sporting events. He's initially confused by the last one, then realizes that she's telling him she loves him despite all these faults, calling back to Becca's speech about Mike.
  • Failed Dramatic Exit:
    • After Harper tearfully says she's telling Kirsten the entire truth about their relationship and tries to walk out of the jewelry store, the alarm goes off because she's still wearing the ring.
    • When Charlie breaks up with Suze at a restaurant, he slaps a bill on the table telling her to order whatever she wants, on him — before going back and retrieving the money because she isn't his girlfriend anymore.
  • Faking Another Person's Illness: Harper (apparently regularly) goes to a specific Mexican restaurant and orders nothing, but eats the free chips and water while she "decides" her meal. Once she can no longer justifiably stall, she runs out because "there's an emergency."
    Charlie: Oh my God, the whole leg?
  • Food Slap: At the end of the movie, Rick appears at Charlie's apartment, asking for information about his ex-wife so he can win her back. Duncan arrives shortly after, and after confirming Rick is no longer Charlie's boss, smacks his iced coffee onto Rick's shirt.
  • Fourth-Date Marriage: Kirsten and Rick get engaged after only a few dates. Fortunately, Kirsten realizes what a douche Rick is at the airport and leaves him.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: After their argument, when Charlie considers calling Harper, he looks through his contacts before doing so. Among his contacts are "Grammy!!!" and "Jorf."
  • Funny Background Event: At Becca and Mike's engagement party when Harper says goodbye to Becca, Charlie and Mike do a silly handshake behind them.
  • Genre Throwback: To the great romantic comedies of The '90s and the Turn of the Millennium, retooled for The New '10s. A plucky journalist protagonist! Plotting! Romance in the Big Applesauce! Dramatic speeches about loving despite flaws! The Race for Your Love!
  • Girly Girl with a Tomboy Streak: Harper dresses in fashionable clothes, is a hopeless romantic, and considers the idea of a woman playing hard to get "evolutionarily unsound". She also loves sports, to the point she watches old highlights and cries over them as though she's watching a romcom.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Harper admits that she just expected Rick and Kirsten to date for a short amount of time, like a month. Their matchmaking goes so well that Kirsten is absolutely smitten with Rick and agrees to elope with him, despite his very obvious shortcomings (and the affair he has going on).
  • Hate Sink:
    • Rick Otis is a high ranking New York executive who regularly mistreats his subordinates, and is introduced having Charlie Young scramble to get him dinner. Throughout the film, Rick has Charlie do other menial tasks, such as working on a science project for the former's son, and saving seats at the aforementioned son's play. When an intern brings an item into Rick's office relating to his ex wife, Kiki, Rick fires the intern, calling him a "pencil dick" for good measure. After being manipulated into a relationship with fellow executive Kirsten Stevens, courtesy of the latter's assistant Harper Moore, as well as Rick's own assistant Charlie, Rick blames Kirsten for a bad date after eating raw beef at a Korean restaurant. Eventually, once his relationship with Kirsten resumes, Rick lets slip to Charlie that he is cheating on Kirsten with Kiki.
    • Suze is Charlie's vapid, self-absorbed Supermodel girlfriend who is obsessed with prestige and status. When Charlie invites her to the school play where Rick's son is performing, Suze complains about Charlie not being higher up in his career. In a later scene, Suze is seen flirting with other men, prompting Charlie to join Harper at her best friend's engagement party when the latter's date does not make contact. When Suze and Charlie eat dinner at an expensive restaurant, Suze makes a big deal about said restaurant being the venue for Kanye West's half birthday. Suze responds to Charlie breaking up with her at the restaurant by whining that Charlie is supposed to be her "backup".
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Rick is very easily angered and is prone to Tantrum Throwing over minor things.
  • High-Powered Career Woman: Kirsten, Harper's boss, is a prominent sports journalist with a strong personality. This has made her capable enough to start her own news website, but it also means she drove away every man who was interested in her because she knew they couldn't handle her success.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • When Charlie and Harper are trying to set up a Meet Cute in an elevator:
      Harper: Falcon One's headed to the nest. We are a go for Pandora's Box.
      Charlie: You're not in the Secret Service, you can say "elevator." [Beat] [whispering] We're a go for Pandora's Box.
      Creepy Tim: Copy that.
    • Kirsten yells at Harper (as a proxy for Rick) after a disastrous date at a Korean barbecue. Harper, very quietly, says he sounds like a jerk. Kirsten replies, very seriously, that Harper's "abrasiveness and general demeanor will hinder [her] in the workplace."
  • I'm Standing Right Here: While sitting in the upper deck at Yankee Stadium, Harper greets another fan named Dennis and explains to Charlie he's a heavy weightlifting champion at the Gerilympics.
    Charlie: What does he bench, negative 10?
    Dennis: I heard that, you little pissant. I'm old, not deaf.
  • Ironic Echo: "The men behind the curtain". Harper first uses it to convince Charlie to help her set up their bosses; Charlie later drops it when asking why they shouldn't just let the marriage go ahead despite Rick's affair.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: The successful Kirsten graduated from Dartmouth.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Kirsten, who is capable of giving warm, supportive feedback when she tries and does genuinely like Harper. Rick, on the other hand, is a Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk.
  • Last Het Romance: Harper lost her virginity to a man who came out as gay... while they were in the act. Upon hearing this, Duncan explains it's actually fairly common for gay men to only accept their sexuality after they've tried having sex with a woman.
  • Last-Minute Project: After Rick destroys the project for his son's science fair that Charlie had made the night before the fair, Harper helps him put together something involving milk and food coloring.
  • Manchild: Rick is horribly immature for a high-ranking finance executive. He throws tantrums like nobody's business, kicks the dog regularly, and expresses misogyny several times. Kirsten even calls him one while describing their Bad Date. The implication is that his bad behavior is tolerated because of his high rank and connections.
  • Matchmaker Failure: Harper and Charlie, beleaguered assistants to two tough New York executives, conspire to set their bosses up to make their work life less stressful. Things get hairy when Harper and Charlie discover that Charlie's boss, Rick, is cheating on Harper's boss, Kirsten, with his ex. Eventually, Charlie personally sabotages Rick and Kirsten's relationship when he realizes that by allowing their relationship to continue, he is compromising his own ethics.
  • Mean Boss: Both Rick and Kirsten are tyrannical bosses — he a venture capitalist manager, she a sports journalist — who run their assistants to the bone and are generally difficult to work for. Kirsten is a subversion — she has her reasons for being hard on Harper and softens up considerably by the end. Rick, however, remains a bad-tempered Manchild through and through.
  • Meaningful Echo:
    • "This is the best meal I've ever had." First said by Harper while they eat cheap pizza together in Charlie's apartment, and later by Suze while they eat expensive dishes at a fancy restaurant. The difference in context makes Charlie realize that he prefers being with Harper.
    • "And yet." Becca gives a speech about "liking because, loving despite," listing off her fiancé's bad qualities, "and yet" she still loves him. Harper and Charlie have a discussion about how Rick and Kirsten don't have that which is an early sign they won't work out. At the end, they list off each other's bad qualities... and yet.
  • Meet Cute:
    • Harper and Charlie first meet while arguing over a food delivery since they both have to feed their bosses.
    • Discussed. Harper mentions that "Every great romance has a meet cute" while mulling over how to get Kirsten and Rick to meet.
  • Mistaken for Racist: The homophobia variant. After Rick and Kirsten refuse to kiss on the kiss cam, the camera moves to a couple of guys who do kiss. Charlie boos them and is called out by some spectators.
    Charlie: It's for a different reason!
  • Most Writers Are Writers: Harper is an aspiring sports journalist.
  • My Girl Is a Slut: Becca, Harper's friend, is outright stated to have slept around before she met Mike (to the point that she can't avoid running into her exes in New York City), but Mike is completely accepting.
  • Parent Produced Project: Rick's son has a Science Fair coming up. Rick being a demanding Mean Boss, he has his assistant Charlie make the project. Charlie spends days working on something about lemon batteries, only for Rick to destroy it during a temper tantrum.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • After the engagement announcement, Kirsten tells Harper that she's hard on her because she sees potential in her (also because she has good skin because she's young).
    • When Rick comes in drunk, he tries to dance with Charlie and tells him that he's a good guy and he appreciates him.
    • After Charlie quits and Kirsten breaks up with him, Rick shows up at Charlie's apartment towards the end of them film to ask for info about his ex-wife Kiki, who he genuinely wants to get back together with.
  • Playing Cyrano: Harper calls nudging Rick and Kirsten into romance as "Cyrano[ing] them", because she and Charlie are fixing things so that their bosses end up together. This winds up deconstructed, as Rick and Kirsten's relationship is largely manufactured as a result. They are fundamentally incompatible and are only together because of their mutual attraction and Harper and Charlie's manipulations.
    Harper: Okay. It's when a nerdy guy helps a handsome guy date the girl that he loves by telling him what to say, what to do.
    Charlie: That is not what we're doing. We're full-on Parent Trapping.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: After the two of them continually refer to their plan as "Cayrano[ing]", Charlie is eventually forced to admit he doesn't know what Harper is referring to. After Harper explains it to him, he thinks The Parent Trap (1998) is a more appropriate term.
  • Previously Overlooked Paramour: Neither Harper nor Charlie initially realize that they are a suitable match, and respectively pursue relationships with "Golf Guy" and Suze. When these relationships fail, they both realize that they are more suited for each other than their respective bosses, whom they had set up though subterfuge.
  • Proxy Breakup: One of the men in the opening montage of beleaguered assistants is seen ending a relationship on his boss's behalf.
  • Race for Your Love: The classic rom-com trope of rushing somewhere to stop/confess something with a big speech does happen, but is played with.
    • Double subverted when Charlie begins a mad dash to the airport, realizes he still has a few hours to get there, spends too much time dicking around, and winds up doing it anyway.
    • The twist is that he's doing it to stop Rick and Kirsten's elopement, not to (directly) further his romance with Harper.
    • And finally lampshaded by a bystander, who believes that Charlie is Kirsten's suitor here to make a Grand Romantic Gesture.
      Bystander: You should go with the younger guy!
  • Really Gets Around: Becca, Harper's roommate (although this is largely an Informed Attribute as she gets engaged in the beginning). According to her fiance, if they had to avoid every guy she'd ever hooked up with on public transportation, they could never leave the apartment.
  • "Reason You Suck" Speech: Harper gives on to Charlie when he shows he's willing to cover up Rick cheating on Kirsten if it means getting the promotion he's been vying for, additionally telling him that he's let his ambitions turn him into just as much a self-centered jerk as Rick.
  • Romantic False Lead:
    • Suze, Charlie's supermodel girlfriend, is so blatantly vapid, shallow, and self absorbed that it is clear that her relationship with Charlie will not make it to the end of the film.
    • The guy that Harper hooks up with, only known as Golf Guy, has so little characterization that it's obvious he doesn't stand a chance either; not helping his case is the fact that he leaves Harper hanging.
  • Shipper on Deck:
    • It's implied Becca is one for Charlie and Harper — when Harper announces she needs pizza at Becca's engagement party, Becca sends her and Charlie on their way to get some despite knowing several boxes were on their way up to the party. Presumably, this was to give the two some alone time.
    • By the end, Kirsten is one for Charlie and Harper; she deliberately sets them up to meet so they can work out their issues and get together.
  • Soul-Crushing Desk Job: Charlie doesn't particularly like venture capitalism and admits to Harper the only reason he's sticking to it is because he thinks people aren't supposed to like their jobs and at least it pays well once you're promoted. After he's fired, he starts working with a temp agency so he can figure out what job he really wants.
  • Stereotype Reaction Gag: Duncan calls Charlie out for assuming all gay guys are having sex all the time. A short time later, a guy comes out of his bedroom promising to call him.
    Duncan: Technically, this time, I did have a guy over.
  • Tantrum Throwing: Rick is prone to kicking and throwing things around his office when things don't go his way.
  • Ten Minutes in the Closet: Invoked. When Harper mentions getting "stuck in an elevator" together as a possible Meet Cute, they conspire with one of the maintenance workers in the building to shut down the elevator while Rick and Kirsten are inside. The elevator actually fails while they're inside with a claustrophobic delivery man.
    Creepy Tim: Oh, irony, you fickle queen.
  • Tough Love:
    • Kirsten admits this is why she's so tough on Harper — she wants her to be ready for whatever the industry throws at her. She does acknowledge it as being 'cunty' and is notably nicer to her by the film's end.
    • After Harper reveals to Becca she was fired and she can't finish her article because of how bad it is, Becca whacks her with a pillow and tells her to just finish the article regardless of how bad it is because she'll never improve otherwise.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Harper calls out Charlie for deciding to cover up Rick cheating on Kirsten, pointing out that his actions are worse because Rick is just a Jerkass through and through while Charlie is a good guy who is actively choosing to do something wrong for his own benefit.
  • Workaholic: Kirsten is so devoted to her job that she stays near midnight all the time and doesn't have time for a love life.
  • Wrong-Name Outburst: Rick accidentally calls Kirsten "Kiki" — his ex-wife's name — in an argument. It's one of the final straws, and she leaves him very shortly after.
  • You Need to Get Laid: The entire film runs on this. Harper and Charlie conspire to set up their bosses in the hopes that them being in a relationship will make their work lives easier.


Video Example(s):



Becca's boyfriend Mike is completely accepting of her promiscuity, to Harper's surprise.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / MyGirlIsASlut

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