Archives for posts with tag: romantic comedies

Garry Marshall died a few months after the release of “Mother’s Day” (2016) and I can assure you, he took no sitcom-style plot conventions with him to the grave. They’re all here: the younger and sexier second wife, the wacky parents, the sassy black friend, the wedding scene, the hospital scene, the graveyard scene. He did everything but have Fonzie jump a shark again. But that was Marshall’s gift. He could take boilerplate romantic comedy material and pan fry it in enough schmaltz to clog an artery, yet it would always come out satisfying (not great, satisfying). It’s cinematic comfort food.

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It’s easy to write off “Cocktail” as a formulaic modern romantic comedy, except, technically, the formula didn’t exist yet. Tom Cruise made this movie in 1988, six years before one Hugh John Mungo Grant’s p-whipped ass showed up in “Four Weddings and a Funeral.” But Cruise does play the boy-who-never-grew-up, he does get his comeuppance, his id (played by Bryan Brown) gets slain and Cruise does, indeed, get p-whipped. So it’s kind of a beta version. Personally, I wouldn’t have been caught dead in such high-end bars with such douchey, bottle-slinging bartenders as Cruise and Brown back in 1988. Still wouldn’t.

As a drunken Irishman, I totally agree with the theory that God looks after drunks and Irishmen. Having watched “Army of One” (2016), I believe the definition of “drunk” may be broad enough to include Colorado stoners. Nicholas Cage devours scenery as a samurai Lebowski on a quest to bring Osama Bin Laden to justice. Hijinks ensue while somehow also giving birth to a working-class rom-com. If that seems like too much, just imagine your last conversation with that scatterbrained guy you know, the one who talks really fast to keep up with his thoughts. This movie is that conversation.

There’s so much I want to say about “While You Were Sleeping (1995), I don’t know where to start. When I finally saw it, 19 years after it came out, it was a revelation. A romantic comedy where you don’t have to cut off your balls (spoiler alert) in order to enjoy it. Sandra Bullock does the vulnerable thing so well, you wonder where it comes from (Then you see how she is today, and you know.). My first wife had such a crush on Bill Pullman. After seeing him here, I now know what she saw (briefly) in me.

 

“Coming to America” (1988) might be Eddie Murphy’s most underrated movie. The story is basic romantic comedy boilerplate (Spoiler: He pretends he’s something he’s not to impress girl, she becomes interested, he tells truth, she gets pissed, hijinks ensue, kiss and make up, the end.). The differentiators in rom-coms are the stars and their characters. You have to like the first and believe the second. Murphy and Arsenio Hall (an African prince and his servant) were at the height of their likability and they create memorable characters. Accents, mannerisms and naivete. The forgettable female lead just had to show up.

 

It is appropriate that artificial insemination is a key plot point in “The Back-Up Plan” (2010). The entire film smacks of artificiality. Don’t get me wrong. Jennifer Lopez has many moments of adorability and watching her be cute for 108 minutes wouldn’t be the worst way to fill a Sunday afternoon. But this rom-com is just so TV movie-of-the-week. The romantic interest is a TV guy (Alex O’Loughlin) and most of the cast are TV people (Tom Bosley, Noureen DeWulf, Linda Lavin, Melissa McCarthy). The producer? You guessed it: CBS Films. It’s not a film, it’s a cross-platform marketing tool.