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"Anyone but You" isn't much of anything but "eh," and "eh" is a mere two-letter word.

Based, loosely, on some old play by Shakespeare, director and co-writer Will Gluck's "Much Ado About Nothing" riff was filmed in Australia and stars Glen Powell as Ben and Sydney Sweeney as Bea, the Benedick and Beatrice equivalents. They meet cute at a coffee shop, have a lovely getting-to-know-you evening, separate at dawn under tense, hurtful circumstances, and then reunite uneasily when the Sweeney character's sister announces a destination wedding near Sydney (Australia, not Sweeney), to which both Bea and Ben are invited.

Ben works at home (something to do with money, never explained) and lives in what Bea notes is the kind of sleek, un-mussed condo favored by sociopaths and serial killers. Bea is a conflicted lawyer-in-training who recently dumped her longtime boyfriend (Darren Barnet). Bea has dropped out of law school but hasn't yet told her parents (played by Dermot Mulroney and ensemble highlight Rachel Griffiths).

Deceptions multiply at the coastal house they're all sharing for the weekend, family and American guests of the family alike. Exes pop up, both Bea and Ben's (Charlee Fraser plays Ben's summer-fling surfer lover). The brides-to-be — played by Alexandra Shipp and Hadley Robinson — don't want the squabbling Bea and Ben to mess up their nuptials, so "Anyone but You" sets up strategically overheard conversations, a la Shakespeare, designed to make Bea and Ben think they're secretly sweet on each other. They're onto it soon enough, but decide to play along and pretend they're a couple after all just to avoid trouble.

Workable in theory. This kind of thing has worked for centuries if done with panache, or in this case, panache plus references to "those two (expletives)." But romantic comedy has little need for theory. It's the practice, the execution, that counts, and often it's about undefinables: charm, wit, sincerity and feeling bubbling up at odd and telling moments. The gorgeous moment in Shakespeare's play when Beatrice glances on her romantic history with Benedick, mentioning he won her heart "with false dice" — it's gold. An actor can find a thousand different ways to interpret it. And without that moment, everything else in the plot matters less.

"Anyone but You" settles for less. It's a movie about getting Powell and his abs into or out of his underwear often enough for diversion's sake. Or getting Sweeney into another round of beachwear, or ready for her close-ups of confusion, contempt, repressed yet dizzying lust. Lines from Shakespeare's 1599 text — still a pip, by the way — pop up on screen ("Assume thy part in some disguise"; "a skirmish of wit").

It's fun to see Bryan Brown and Michelle Hurd as the Shipp character's parents. As for the leads: Powell is an interesting case of a solid, versatile performer who has yet to fully emerge on screen. He's pretty good at a lot of different things; clearly he knows a fair bit about heightened, style-dependent comedy, having succeeded in Richard Linklater's eccentric, 1980s-set "Everybody Wants Some!" which was handled like Restoration comedy with a Texas spin.

Here in a leading role, after strong support work in "Top Gun: Maverick," Powell sticks to the same two or three notes in the key of smug. That's how Ben is written, so an actor would have to do a lot of work on his own to transcend the limitations. Meantime Sweeney goes her own way, gamely leaning into the physical comedy (Bea's accident-prone) while deadpanning most of her retorts. Sweeney has talent, in many directions. Verbal sparring, at this point, is not one of them.

Despite the scenery, both geographic and human, it feels as if Gluck and company are attempting to win our hearts with false dice, and headliners who may be as photogenic as the Sydney Opera House we keep seeing in the background. But photogenic isn't the same thing as beguiling. "Anyone but You" isn't terrible, or a travesty. It's ehnother thing ehltogether.

'Anyone but You'
2 stars out of 4
Rated: R for language throughout, sexual content and brief graphic nudity
Where: In theaters Friday