Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Failing to Launch a Proposal on How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days While Wearing 27 Dresses

Here is a text conversation I had with my buddy Gray about a couple days ago:

GRAY: Go to and read the blurb on 500 Days of Summer. It's a rom com where a guy falls in love with a girl named Summer.

ME: When it was recently referred to as the "when harry met sally" of our generation, i lost any interest i had. Why not just call it the next "casablanca"?

GRAY: This movie looks extremely unconventional, though. [SPOILER ALERT that no one from the movie is trying to hide] The characters don't even wind up together, so I don't see the comparison.

ME: Yeah, I've been tracking that one for over a year now and am losing interest the closer it gets [to being released]. Too much modern angst for me.

GRAY: I'm excited about it, though i only discovered it 10 minutes ago. I welcome any novelty in that tired genre.

That was the end of our conversation and we both went about our respective weeks. For some odd reason though, I haven't been able to shake what Gray texted right there at the end: "I welcome any novelty in that tired genre".

I think he nailed it.

I've been so hung up on what "500 Days" is that I forget to see it for what it's not - just another drone in a recent long line of formulaic romantic comedies.

I think we can all agree that almost every rom com from the past five to 10 years has pretty much followed the same game plan:

- Girl and Guy hate each other

- Girl and Guy have wacky best friends
- Turning point causes Girl and Guy to like each other
- Silly misunderstanding and/or truth about elaborate scheme is revealed which causes rift between Girl and Guy
- Girl or Guy makes heartfelt speech to the other
- Girl and Guy live happily ever after

Did I leave anything out? Didn't think so.

This past weekend, my Fiance and I went on a classy dinner and a movie date downtown. Being the cool girl that she is, she even suggested "Public Enemies" (can't wait to see it by the way) but I was just in the mood for something lighter to fit the mood of the evening.

Upon the positive review of "The Proposal" from my buddy Paul (great recap of the John Cusack era by the way), we settled on that one and I was actually really enjoying it... u
ntil the movie hit the "Silly-misunderstanding-and/or-truth-about-elaborate-scheme-is-revealed-which-causes-rift-between-Girl-and-Guy".

I seriously believe that once a romantic comedy gets to that point in the filming process, the writers, actors, directors, crew, etc. legitimately just put it on auto-pilot and coast into the ending of the film.

This whole thing made me think about the rom coms that I actually do like and why I like them.

My top three favorites probably are:

1. Sleepless in Seattle
2. You've Got Mail
3. High Fidelity

And I don't feel any less macho or lame for naming those movies because they're not the typical "Chick Flicks" that have become so common.

When I started breaking them down in my head, something important jumped about at me. None of them really follow the usual formula that everyone else is beating into the ground.

I think I like "Sleepless" the most because the main characters DON'T EVEN MEET UNTIL THE LAST TWO MINUTES OF THE MOVIE.

How do you pull that off?

That script and those actors have really got to be working for an audience to believe these two STRANGERS are supposed to be together. That's not even a "romantic comedy" anymore, that's a really good film that just happens to be in the romantic comedy genre.

It happens again in "Mail". Even though Tom Hanks' character knows what's going on, Meg Ryan doesn't know who he really is until the very end.

"High Fidelity" is another one of those great movies that you reluctantly just have to put in the rom com genre because it really doesn't fit anywhere else.

All three are just well made movies.

I understand that two big stars + cookie cutter script = box office success to the Hollywood studios and it's hard to fault someone from walking away from an easy gold mine, but I guess my whole point is that I'm just glad we occasionally get one of these classics from time to time.

Don't know if "500 Days" will rank up there, but like Gray so keenly observed (and I didn't), it's already off to a good start.


~Em said...

I'm all about checking it buddy cut the trailer and he thought it had some cool potential...I'm in.

Michelle Matthews said...

Good call putting "Sleepless" as #1 on your list. "Sleepless" is its own kind of rom com. Nothing stands in comparison...its actually kind of remarkable! I, however, do believe the "Mail" still has the usual elements... Creative as it might be, the classic rift still exists in "Mail". Thinking over this, I might have to rethink the rank of "Sleepless" up against "Harry Met Sally". You might shoot me, but here's my new ranking....

1. How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days
2. Sleepless in Seatle
3. When Harry Met Sally
4. Miss Congeniality (if that is even a rom com)
5. Picture Perfect

Katie said...

I just had a convo yesterday with a friend about "Mail" because it was on TV. I suggested that is was a "pioneer" in rom com but I couldn't quite put my finger on why. I think you have helped me do that. I also think "Sleepless" deserves your ranking. However, like the previous commenter I have a special fondness of "How to Lose a Guy"...I think it may be the startling revelation, as a female watching Kate Hudson do an exaggerated form of EVERYTHING we fear we do in relationships.

The Triumphant Return of Paulie Walnuts said...

We have already argued enough about you calling 'High Fidelity' a RomCom, so I'll just leave you with a recap of this morning's concessions:

Me: "Maybe I am just upset about what it says about me, that I have a RomCom in my top 10 favorite movies of all time"

You: "That may say something about me and my view of Romance!"

Me: (laughing hysterically for 3 minutes).

Greatest. Love you and your sick mind.

The Triumphant Return of Paulie Walnuts said...

p.s. My blog on 'The Proposal" was more about the movie date experience, than the quality of the film. I am pretty sure I ripped the stereotypical nature of the story arch.

BUT, I did laugh (which I did not do in any of the movies you mentioned in your title), and call me naive, but I was not positive they would get together.

Just saying it was entertaining, which is all I am really asking for sometimes.

Just Being Josh said...

Totally agree with you on "The Proposal" as good movie date experience! Like I said, I really enjoyed it... right up until that formulaic plot point.

Not ripping on you, your review, or even the movie - this whole point just happened to hit me during that particular film.

Def a great date night movie and while I'm thinking about it, I just had the realization that after I'm married there's a good chance it will be sitting on my DVD shelf at home.

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