‘Something from Tiffany’s’ Review: Love With A Return Policy

Baked goods and switched gifts complicate the holidays for two couples in Prime Video’s pleasant if forgettable romantic comedy. 

Something from Tiffany's
Erin Simkin/Prime Video

Romantic comedies like “Something from Tiffany’s” are the stocking stuffers of holiday entertainment. They may not linger in the memory, even getting thrown out with the Christmas trash, but they provide dependable short-term pleasures that don’t wrest the spotlight from perennial or more substantial gifts. 

Starring Zoey Deutch as a New Yorker whose path fatefully crosses with Kendrick Sampson when they’re both otherwise involved, Daryl Wein’s feature has a comfort-food familiarity to its modest, not-particularly-convincing plot mechanizations, which one assumes were faithfully translated from the novel by prolific beach-read author Melissa Hill. (She also writes crime fiction with her husband under the shared pseudonym Casey Hill). Produced by Reese Witherspoon’s production company, it’s a glossy, diverting-enough exercise that delivers the expected goods with competence if no particular inspiration. 

Back in the Big Apple for a winter vacation with pubescent daughter Daisy (Leah Jeffries), widowed UCLA creative writing professor and author Ethan (Sampson) is introduced shopping at Tiffany & Co. for an engagement ring. He’s secretly planned this trip in part to propose to girlfriend Vanessa (Shay Mitchell), even though she’s not exactly the cold-weather type. Upon leaving the store with their pricey purchase, however, father and daughter witness another customer getting hit by a taxi he’d obliviously walked in front of. In the ensuing hubbub, the Greenes pick up the wrong bag, inadvertently leaving the ring to be whisked away in an ambulance with tattoo artist Gary (Ray Nicholson), who’d bought a much-less-expensive set of earrings as a Christmas gift for baker-restauranteur girlfriend Rachel (Deutch). 

Daisy is concerned about the fate of this felled stranger, resulting in a hospital visit that introduces her and dad to Rachel. Touched by their solicitude (turns out Gary only suffered a minor concussion), Rachel invites the duo to her eatery, and a friendship commences. However, it’s soon complicated by the adults’ realization of what’s occurred: Ethan is taken aback to discover his intended proposal stymied for lack of engagement ring, while its surprised possessor Gary lets himself be swept by Rachel’s delighted response into a proposal he hadn’t intended to make. 

Meanwhile, one couple begins to wonder if they’re really suited for each other; Rachel uncovers cause to be disappointed in the oft-unreliable Gary; and naturally the two top-billed leads are discomfited by a mutual eagerness to spend time together. 

The gift mixup provides a clever starting premise for this kind of lightweight seriocomic tale. Once we get past its immediate impact on two hesitantly-committed relationships, however, Tamara Chestna’s adapted screenplay gets less interesting. That’s in part because the excuses for unraveling those relationships are kinda weak, and partly because our rooting value for the couple-to-be is so perfunctory. 

As played by Deutch, Rachel is a bit of a sitcom-ish “quirky girl” ditz — a successful entrepreneur, yet painted as so easily overwhelmed that Ethan has to step behind the counter at one point to help her with an impatient queue — while Sampson’s hero is suave and serious, conscientious in all things. They’re both appealing in their way, but don’t seem much of a temperamental match, and their chemistry must be taken on faith. 

Similarly, the principal supporting role of Rachel’s lesbian co-worker/best friend Terri provides a useful foil. Yet we never quite believe a personality as deadpan and vinegary as Jojo T. Gibbs plays it would have much patience for what comes off as a kitchen-handier update of Marlo Thomas’ zany “That Girl.” The plot mechanics in general grow increasingly strained past the film’s midpoint.

Nonetheless, Wein (making a shift from the comparatively edgy tone of his prior indie features) handles it all with the desired sprightliness of touch, packaging this narrative bauble like a shiny gift box. While apparently a fair amount of the film was actually shot in California, the Manhattan exteriors look scrubbed and glittery, ballasting the kind of holiday city-life fantasy in which snow swirls picturesquely yet no one ever seems to be cold (or require a hat). There’s a burnished warmth to Bryce Fortner’s cinematography, as well as to other major design contributions. 

And needless to say, the soundtrack is packed with a Starbucks-y assortment of tasteful golden oldies in a variously schmaltzy and soulful mode, ranging from Dean Martin to The Temptations and Etta James. Like nearly everything else here, their presence is more formulaically calculated than organic. Still, it’s all quite pleasant in the moment. 

“Something from Tiffany’s” releases Dec. 9 on Prime Video.

‘Something from Tiffany’s’ Review: Love With A Return Policy

Reviewed online, Dec. 6, 2022. MPA Rating: PG. Running time: 88 MIN.<br>

  • Production: A Prime Video release of an Amazon Studios presentation of a Hello Sunshine production. Producers: Reese Witherspoon, Lauren Neustadter. Executive producers: Zoey Deutch, Marcei A. Brown, Jeanette Volturno, Morgan Des Groseillers. Co-producer: Josie Craven.<br>
  • Crew: Director: Daryl Wein. Screenplay: Tamara Chestna, based on the novel by Melissa Hill. Camera: Bryce Fortner. Editor: Casey Brooks. Music: Ray Miller, Jay Lifton.
  • With: Zoey Deutch, Kendrick Sampson, Ray Nicholson, Shay Mitchell, Leah Jeffries, Jojo T. Gibbs, Javicia Leslie. <br>