I am four weeks into my year of romantic comedies and oh man did I ever pick a doozie of a 4th movie. By which I mean I picked a terrible fourth movie. I’m so used to loving every romantic comedy, even the awful ones, that this experience really shook me to my core. You can read all about my impression of Something Borrowed on A Year of Romantic Comedies.
Posts Tagged: romantic comedies
Here’s something I love: romantic comedies.
Here’s something I don’t care about: originality in romantic comedies.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I appreciate an actually well-made, well-written, well-acted gem of a romcom. Nora Ephron movies, for example, are just about as good as it gets.
But you know what else I like? ALL ROMANTIC COMEDIES.
I know some people scoff at the predictability, the cliches, the implausability of the entire plot, but I just do not care. At all. Frankly, life can be extremely depressing and upsetting, and sometimes it’s nice to watch something where you know two attractive people are going to kiss to the tune of a popular song as the camera slowly pans out.
Obviously the plots themselves are predictable, but there are also certain moments that seem to be in almost every romantic comedy. And, even though these moments have been seen over and over again since the beginning of romantic comedy time, I love them. In fact, I WISH someone would make a movie with every single one of these moments in it. Mindy Kaling, will it be you?
My Favorite Cliched Romcom Moments
-Two people end up having to sleep in the same room, or even the same bed, for some reason. Did they accidentally book just one hotel room? Do they need to huddle together in a cave because they’re participating in a fight to the death? Okay, so that one was The Hunger Games, which is decidedly NOT a romantic comedy. Or is it? It’s not.
-A couple is just goofing around (Queen Latifah is trying to keep her midnight snack cookies away from Common, Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman are trying to walk across a sheet of ice in While You Were Sleeping) until they fall and/or realize their faces are PRECARIOUSLY close together. Close enough to TOTALLY MAKE OUT.
-But they probably won’t, because another moment that happens in every romantic comedy is that when the characters’ faces are a half inch apart, some child, petulant elderly person, or sassy homeless guy interrupts them. Whew. They were about to do something that would’ve taken out, like, a third of the movie.
-There’s an elaborate misunderstanding where one character thinks the other character is dating someone. But no! That’s just his very attractive cousin/sister/RA in that picture!
-To prove a point or win a bet, the characters have to kiss. How often does this happen in real life for adults? I feel like never. But it happened in The Wedding Singer, and that might be the best romantic comedy ever made. That kiss may be for show, but the feelings are ALL REAL, you guys.
-Two characters get stuck in a confined space. Snowstorm? Elevator? Coat closet? I don’t care. All I know is they’re stuck and they’re probably going to have a heart to heart where we realize they’re perfect for each other, but they don’t know it yet so they won’t kiss. Movie makers know that if the two characters kissed in a small, emotionally charged space like this, certain emotionally fragile people’s hearts would explode.
-One character has to run to get to the other character BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE. The best use of this is airports, obviously. Everyone knows once someone flies away you can never find or talk to them again. Duh. But it can happen anywhere. Someone just needs to run. Through a park? Through a city? All I know is that someone’s going to be breathless when s/he confesses his/her undying love!
-Falling-in-love montage. Okay, duh. Don’t even come at me with your romcom if you aren’t going to be bothered to put in a montage. IT’S NOT THAT HARD TO MAKE ME HAPPY. The best, best, best, falling-in-love montage is from Valley Girl. It spans the entire length of Modern English’s “I’ll Melt With You,” it involves a lot of aimless walking around, and Nicolas Cage looks fine. Please don’t tell me we have to have the “Nicolas Cage used to be hot” conversation again, okay? Nicolas Cage used to be hot. We just need to accept it. Watch Moonstruck.
-The two main characters will inevitably end up somewhere they’re not really supposed to be after hours. What’s so romantic about being the only ones in a building/amphitheatre? I don’t know. I’m not here to figure out the magic about these things, I’m just here to present them.
-True love confession. Well, obviously you aren’t going to have a great romcom ending unless someone tells the other person “I love you.” That’s the entire point. This is undoubtedly the best part of any romcom, and when it’s done right, it can be a religious experience. Some of my faves include Billy Crystal’s speech to Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally (my heart is beating faster just thinking about it), Adam Sandler’s song on the plane in The Wedding Singer, and EVERY SINGLE OTHER TIME this happens.
-Oh, did I mention that the previous scene should take place in the rain, if possible? Because it should. Somehow the leading lady’s mascara won’t be running. The magic of cinema, y’all.
-An extraordinarily weird misunderstanding or lie that could be easily explained? I love it. We all know Sandra Bullock needs to end up with Bill Pullman and his reversible denim jacket in While You Were Sleeping, but everyone already thinks she’s Peter Gallagher’s Eyebrows’s fiancee, and he’s in a coma! Confusing? Don’t worry about it. It’s perfect.
So those are my favorite romantic comedy moments…what are yours? Let me know in the comments!
Now that I’ve finished all of Rainbow Rowell’s books (even Fangirl, which doesn’t come out for a couple more months, because being a book blogger sometimes leads to awesome perks), I’m sort of depressed. Okay, really depressed, because she doesn’t have any more books I can read. However, I want to channel that reading-related depression into something positive, which mostly means I’m not going to stop until I’ve convinced all of you to read Rainbow Rowell’s books, even if it means I have to literally push them into your hands. Don’t think I won’t do it!
My first foray into the wonderful world of Rainbow was her YA novel, Eleanor & Park. Just like everyone else who read it, I loved it. It was real and romantic, smart and funny, and full of music. Also Park’s dad was repeatedly compared to Tom Selleck, which was a detail I just really loved. After I posted my review, I got a copy of Fangirl and fell in even deeper love. I mean, it might be one of my favorite books ever. It’s about a girl who writes fan fiction. And is a twin. And is in college but really bad at being social. And is in l-u-v with a ridiculously friendly guy (not a brooding guy, not a sensitive bad boy, not a rebel). It’s hilarious and just plain wonderful.
So, naturally, after all that I needed to pick up her adult novel, Attachments. YOU GUYS. IT WAS JUST AS GOOD! Good romantic comedy books can be difficult to find. I’m not saying they’re not out there, because they are, but it’s difficult to sort through the cliches and the generic smut (not that there’s anything wrong with generic smut). It’s always a delight to find a book that’s like a Nora Ephron movie, one that gives you hope and comforts you while also being clever and smart and creating unique characters. That’s what this book does (not to oversell it). Also, Lincoln is great. Oh, Lincoln.
One of the things I really like about Rainbow Rowell’s writing is that she always sees overweight women as people. Yes, sometimes they complain about their weight (just as we all, no matter what we look like, can always find SOME element of our bodies to complain about) but it is not the defining factor of their lives and it CERTAINLY doesn’t make them unattractive or undateable. They don’t have to lose weight to be happy or to get a guy; their weight is just another aspect of who they are. There aren’t a ton of other authors that can do this (although, if you want some recommendations, I would suggest Meg Cabot and Jennifer Weiner).
Also, Rainbow Rowell just gets what makes people attractive. It’s not their perfection or their movie-star good looks; I mean, when you’re in love with someone, you love the weird little imperfections in their face. Their slightly-too-big nose, their ears that stick out, their hair that doesn’t lay flat ever. Rainbow Rowell’s romantic leads have weak chins and widow’s peaks. They feel real in a way that many leading dudes just don’t.
Basically, Rainbow Rowell writes perfect books and I just want you guys to love them the same way I do. Go buy Eleanor & Park and Attachments right now, and FOR SURE get Fangirl when it comes out! And after you read them all, come talk to me about how great they are! Until then, I’ll just be rereading Attachments and getting overly emotional at the ending.
Image via Novel Sounds
Those of you who love romance as much as I do know that Nora Ephron is our patron saint. She understood, maybe better than anyone, how to write a perfect romantic comedy. Just the right amount of tension and back-and-forth without an annoyingly high concept, and a wonderful payoff at the end that will make you cry if you have even half a heart.
Whenever a public figure dies, someone you don’t know personally, I think the nicest thing to do is to reflect on what they’ve done to make your life even a little bit better. The first thing I thought of when I heard about Nora Ephron’s passing was the end of When Harry Met Sally. I watched this scene at the end of my first semester at Miami, right after I got dumped for the second time by my first boyfriend (that’s right, I managed to get dumped twice by the same guy in the span of a few months. Only me, you guys). One of my English classes had this end-of-the-year party where we all had to share some piece of writing or talent or whatever, and I don’t even remember why, but our teacher played this scene. And even though a part of me felt really low and lousy, this made me feel the good and hopeful kind of sad. Because I was in a reading room in the English building on a cold winter’s night and I knew somewhere, in the smallest part of me, that there was still hope.
I’ve long maintained that romantic comedies aren’t about romance at all. They’re about hope. They’re about believing that there’s still a chance that things will get better, that people can be happy, that there’s some sort of connecting fiber that binds all of us together. That’s why I love romantic comedies so much, and that’s why Nora Ephron was so good at her job. She really understood that. Thanks, lovely lady. You will be missed.
It’s hard to say what makes the difference between a good romantic comedy and a bad one. The believability of the situation has little to do with it; I love a ridiculous high-concept, and While You Were Sleeping definitely has one. It doesn’t really take creativity–after all, a rom-com always has to be kind of the same story. I think the two things that are most necessary are a) chemistry between the two leads and b) a lead character who wants something besides love. I do not want to watch a character desperately fling her/himself at potential romantic victims for an hour and a half. That’s what my Facebook newsfeed is for. What I need from a romantic comedy is a yearning for something; a family, a baby, a job, a passion, something. While You Were Sleeping definitely has that.
It has a lot more, too. Like Bill Pullman. Let’s get to it!
Anyone who’s ever taken a creative writing course knows that adage, “Show, Don’t Tell.” Well, this movie shows us, repeatedly, just how lonely Sandra Bullock is. She lives alone. She’s working on Christmas in the token booth for the Chicago train station. She has a cat. She talks to her cat. No friends are ever mentioned. Oh, and both of her parents are dead. Such a lonely girl, our Sandy. The one ray of hairy sunshine in her life is Peter Gallagher’s Eyebrows.
She sees him everyday as he goes to work, but they never talk. UNTIL! Peter Gallagher’s Eyebrows get pushed onto the tracks by some hoodlums who then run away and are never heard from again. Sandra Bullock immediately springs into action and jumps onto the track.
All the while, a train is speeding towards them while deceptively lighthearted music plays and Sandra Bullock says things like, “Please wake up! There’s a train coming toward us! It’s going very fast!” Like, duh, Sandra Bullock, and also move. Finally she rolls both herself and Peter Gallagher’s Eyebrows to safety, and that’s where her trouble actually begins.
She goes to visit Peter Gallagher’s Eyebrows in the hospital, and through a mix up that could be easily avoided, people start thinking she’s the fiancee. Although she could correct them at any time, she doesn’t, because the 1st rule of Romantic Comedy Club is Never Tell The Truth (Even When It Would Be Very Simple). She ingratiates herself with his family, and no one suspects a thing. Until Peter Gallagher’s Eyebrows’ brother Bill Pullman bursts onto the scene, lookin’ like a million bucks in his reversible denim/khaki jacket and his all flannel, all the time shirt collection.
He wears the most unflattering jeans. That jacket is silly (just buy two jackets, Bill. Seriously). He’s old enough to be, if not my dad, at least significantly older than me. And yet I really do not think I’ve ever seen a more attractive romantic lead, ever. Do you need another picture?
Anyway, Bill Pullman and The Jacket are the only ones who suspect something might be up. This is Bill Pullman’s suspicious face:
But you know it’s only a matter of time before he falls in love with Sandra Bullock. Who wouldn’t? America’s Sweetheart, that one. And of course Sandra Bullock falls in love with him. He wants to start a chair making business (OF COURSE HE DOES), he’s wearing the hell out of those jeans, and he growls, like, 95% of his lines. They fall over in the snow!
And then they have what is my FAVORITE romantic comedy moment. It’s the thing where two characters are joking around but then ALL OF A SUDDEN they end up with their faces just an inch apart! And then some drunk guy or inappropriate old man or precocious child says something and they break apart, but it’s too late. They already Had A Moment.
It’s called tension, you guys.
But of course their love can never be, because Sandra Bullock is fake engaged to Peter Gallagher’s Eyebrows. In itself that doesn’t make much sense, but it all comes back to Sandra’s desire. That is, her desire for a family. Because Bill Pullman/Petey’s family has already become her family, and she doesn’t want to give that up, even if it means fraudulently marrying some dude who was just in a coma.
Some other stuff happens and blah, blah, blah. The point is things work out with a ring being tossed into a toll booth and oh my God I think I just had a heart attack. Why are we not still talking about how attractive Bill Pullman was? I can’t be the only one who thinks so, right? I get it, Lost Highway was the creepiest movie any of us have ever seen, but damn if he didn’t pay a mean jazz sax.
Yes, Bill Pullman, I WILL marry you.
And I’d say the same about you, Bill.
You can watch the whole thing on Youtube.
It’s a romantic comedy where no one poops on anything or has sex with an animal. Simpler times. Just a guy in a coma and a girl pretending to be his fiancee.
Previously:This Movie Is The Best Movie: Valley Girl