Two of my favorite movies of all time are “When Harry Met Sally” and “Pretty Woman,” comedies that were huge hits in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Found the whole movie on YouTube. If you haven’t seen it yet, you need to watch
But these films were more than the typical boy meets girl, generic slop-fest you see nowadays with rom-coms; they had captivating leads, rich dialogue and interesting story lines. Were these films head-scratchers? No, but that didn’t make them any less insightful or significant.
Now I’m not arguing that rom-coms nowadays are cinematic breakthroughs; to be honest, they kind of suck. Every now and then, like with “Friends With Benefits,” you get a decent one but in general, most romantic comedies in the last 10 years have been boring, sexist and kind of over-done.
Shallow, one-dimensional characters and plot lines just don’t do it for me. But I don’t think we should give up on the romantic comedy genre entirely. We should just diversify and broaden the characters, actresses and actors, and plot lines within the genre.
This can be tricky, considering romantic comedies usually follow a typical, simple path. Take my above mentioned movie, “Friends with Benefits,” woman meets man, woman and man are attracted to each other, woman and man begin a physical relationship, man and woman have a falling out, man and woman come back together and stay together. Happily ever after right? Formulaic and reductive.
Now, formulaic doesn’t automatically make a film “bad”, but when you have hundreds of movies on Netflix with the same plot but different faces, it tends to get repetitive and tedious. Most people don’t want “Inception”-like reactions when they sit down to watch two people have witty banters and passionate sex, but I think it would definitely be worth a try.
The “Before Sunrise” films starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy is a film with the familiar story of woman meets man and fall in love, but these movies rely heavily on dialogue and truly seeing the perspectives of the two leads. These kind of films may not appeal to everyone, but these specific movies are thought-provoking and clever, something you don’t see in a lot of rom-coms.
I’m not the one shelling out big bucks to produce and direct rom-coms. It can definitely be a risk, considering romantic comedies haven’t been doing very well critically and commercially lately. For example, “The Five Year Engagement” starring Emily Blunt and Jason Segel, cost $30 million to produce and only made $29 million.
The more recent top box-offices winners? “The Avengers.” “Pacific Rim.” This is the age of superheroes and flashy action flicks. Idris Elba and Chris Evans are the rage these days, not Matthew McConaughey.
The world is changing, and I feel like the film industry owes it to not just themselves, but to their audiences to take a chance and try to save the romantic comedy genre. Who knows, they just must surprise themselves and us!