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‘How To Date Billy Walsh’: The Right Romantic Comedy Could Be In Front of You

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This review was made possible by early screeners of Amazon MGM Studios’ How to Date Billy Walsh. The film will be available to stream on Prime Video on April 5.

What do you do when your best friend of forever and the love of your life falls head over heels for the new transfer student? Do you let them go for the sake of their own happiness? Or do you do everything in your power to sabotage their relationship? Would you be willing to live with the consequences of either? Is there another option? I know, I know. It’s a lot of heavy handed questions. It’s not easy, especially when we’re talking about love amongst teenagers. When you’re a raging hormonal 17 year old, being overcome by emotions that you don’t know how to handle is the worst. But that is exactly the premise of Amazon MGM Studios and Prime Video’s newest teen romcom flick, How To Date Billy Walsh, which was directed by Alex Pillai and stars Sebastian Croft, Charithra Chandran, and Tanner Buchanan.

How To Date Billy Walsh centers around Amelia and Archie, two best friends who have known each other since their childhood days. Archie has tried and tried to express his love for her for years. Unfortunately, the universe just isn’t ever on his side. Archie decides it’s their final year of grade school together, so it has to be now or never. But once again, the universe takes another swing at him: Amelia’s attention is suddenly stolen by the new American transfer student, Billy Walsh. Archie tries desperately to keep them apart with an elaborate plot, only to end up putting his own friendship at risk.

Charithra Chandran as Amelia and Sebastian Croft as Archie in “HOW TO DATE BILLY WALSH”. Photo: Amazon MGM Studios

There are plenty of us who are complete suckers for teen romcom films with considerably high stakes for high schoolers. Pick an era, and you’re bound to find something fun. 10 Things I Hate About You, Easy A, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. There’s something unique and something to love about each of them. And it’s what solidifies each movie’s iconic status in their respective eras, whether it be the 90’s or the 2020’s. To be honest, it’s difficult to tell whether How to Date Billy Walsh will end up with as large of a following as some of the more iconic romcoms, whether immediately or several years from now.

One thing to keep in mind is that this film is full of UK humor so don’t feel bad if you don’t get all the jokes or don’t find everything funny. There are moments that linger on for too long, almost unnecessarily. But thirty seconds of looking at the same thing, you realize what the joke is, and it may or may not be enough to get a chuckle out of you. You’ll find yourself facepalming a bit, laughing quietly, and going wide-eyed for a couple of moments. There’s plenty of slapstick humor, and relatable scenes that shake their fist at the universe. But it’s not quite the laugh-out-loud humor one would expect.

Charithra Chandran as Amelia and Sebastian Croft as Archie in “HOW TO DATE BILLY WALSH”. Photo: Amazon MGM Studios

The film takes on a different approach as it is entirely in the point of view of Archie, our male lead. The story is much more focused on the age old trope of will the guy get the girl or will his feelings remain unrequited. It’s generic and predictable, but it’s not those attributes which determine the quality of the movie. In fact, the style in which it’s told reflects today’s generation. It’s got all the latest fads: emojis, social media, live streaming, having your whole life or maybe just an embarrassing moment go viral. Just because technology makes life easier in some ways doesn’t mean it can’t make our lives miserable in other ways. 

Such is the case when Archie decides to use a face altering app to pretend to be a “love doctor” for Amelia who is desperate to find a way to get Billy Walsh to notice her and date her. The mere use of such technology is enough to give off unsettling vibes. On the one hand, you have the side of how dangerous such technology can be. After all, if a kid can do it, imagine what we as adults can do and what we could get away with. On the other hand, there is the issue of literally a guy manipulating his best friend without considering her feelings. And it’s a major aspect of the film that makes Archie less likable. 

The problem with Archie’s character isn’t that he’s in love with his best friend. That happens everyday, and is perfectly normal. The problem is there are several moments where he chooses to be a good friend when it looks good or benefits him. So, what does the film do so well to twist our feelings as a viewer? It makes it the easiest thing to have a love/hate relationship with Archie. Dumping spaghetti on your head to stand in solidarity with the love of your life? Learning to let them go when you know their happiness matters more in the end? It’s hard not to cheer for him but it’s equally hard not to judge him for the questionable lengths he goes to.

Tanner Buchanan as Billy Walsh, Sebastian Croft as Archie, and Charithra Chandran as Amelia in “HOW TO DATE BILLY WALSH”. Photo: Amazon MGM Studios.

But that’s not to say Amelia is any better. Chandran is absolutely sweet and endearing as Amelia which makes her favorable. While there is not a single wink toward her South Asia heritage, Amelia still manages to come across as your typical nerdy outcast Brown girl. Her character has a few touching moments of vulnerability and depth but there’s not much else to go along with it. Instead, for the most part, she is presented as flat and one-dimensional. It’s almost reflective of Bollywood romcom films that focus on the guy’s perspective as they perceive the most surface level attributes of the woman they’re pursuing. And this honestly makes sense given the film is from a male character’s point of view. It almost makes me wonder what we could have gotten had it been from a female character’s point of view.

And I can hear you all screaming, “But what about Billy Walsh?!” Don’t worry, I got you. If you’ve seen him in Cobra Kai, he’s got the same bad boy edge as he rides on his motorcycle. And if you haven’t seen it, imagine your high school crush wearing a leather jacket, scuffed up jeans,  and imperfect messy hair. Except this time? He’s the sweetest human being on the planet. He is the ideal boyfriend…from afar. When it comes down to it, Buchanan and Chandran share next to no chemistry or compatibility, and that is an intentional choice. The story isn’t about how to get the guy or how to get the girl per se. It’s about seeing and recognizing what’s right in front of us is what we may have wanted all along, and having the courage to act on it. A cheesy little message but sometimes, we all need the reminder.

Charithra Chandran as Amelia and Tanner Buchanan as Billy Walsh in “HOW TO DATE BILLY WALSH”. Photo: Amazon MGM Studios

So, what now? Is How To Date Billy Walsh worthwhile? Should you give it a watch? Will it be a classic teen romcom that people will clamor on about how nobody gave it a chance? Honestly, who knows. Time will tell. It’s not a movie I’d put on my list of romcom films but it’s also not a total miss. If straightforward, UK humor is what gets you cracking up, then give it a shot. If those 2000’s Bollywood comedies about the guy singing about getting the girl are for you, check this one out. If you just want to watch any of the cast members in something new because you enjoy them that much, then give it a chance! It’s far from the perfect romcom but it has its moments that are guaranteed to grow on you and make you smile. After all, your new favorite romantic comedy film could be right in front of you.

Samosa Rating:  

How To Date Billy Walsh receives 3 out of 5 Samosas.

How To Date Billy Walsh is available to stream on Prime Video beginning April 5. 
Runtime: 1h 38m

If you want even more film discussions, reviews, or just some good old recommendations, be sure to follow @samosasandpopcorn on TikTok!

Pooja Chand
Pooja Chand
Known on other platforms as Samosas and Popcorn, Pooja is a movie enthusiast topped with sprinkles of her love for TV. She can typically be found watching anything from the latest blockbuster movie to a feel good anime, and is always ready to start the discussion on movies and TV so you don't have to.

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