Instead of a regular “things to watch” post in list format, I'm trying this new thing were my friend Samantha and I discuss things. And today it's romcoms, because in November we watch romcoms (we'll explain why).
LAURA: It’s November. Or “romcom appreciation month” as we like to call it.
SAM: Yes! Putting a pause on the scary of last month, and gearing up for the holiday movies of next.
LAURA: Do you remember which movie started our tradition to have romcom marathons in November?
SAM: Serendipity? I think? That’s like the ultimate holiday romcom. That one your fave?
LAURA: It really is the ultimate holiday romcom. A chance meeting during Christmas shopping in New York City, then ice skating? It doesn’t get much better than than that. But I wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s my favorite (even though it’s close), what about you?
SAM: I have so many that are all pretty much on the same level… A few of them involving Jennifer Garner and/or Reese Witherspoon, and both with Mark Ruffalo. 13 Going on 30 and Sweet Home Alabama are definitely up there. Oddly enough, I just realized, both involve the “childhood friends” trope. Go figure.
LAURA: Mark, why did I know he’d make an appearance? Sweet Home Alabama is a good one! I think that was the first one I saw where both guys were equally great. Usually one is always on the jerkier side (even though I am with you on the childhood friends thing, so Josh Lucas still had a small advantage over Patrick Dempsey).
SAM: You know me too well. And yes, it makes things feel more…real? Because chances are if you liked the guy in the first place… he wouldn’t be completely awful. The other guy being an actual decent option makes it better!
LAURA: Do you sometimes feel bad for the other guy? Getting dumped a week before the wedding just because his fiancée fell for the wedding planer, florist, chef or basically any random guy involved in the wedding? Not cool.
SAM: So much! Especially when their only flaw is being boring. I’d always wanted a movie from that person’s POV, picking up right after they get dumped at the altar or something.
LAURA: Forgetting Sarah Marshall kinda fits that description, or HighFidelity. But neither really has that classic romcom feel.
SAM: That brings up a good point. Nowadays, I feel like the “classic” romcom, is basically dead. There are movies with that element–and there always will be–but in terms of straight up romance, everything needs to be “edgier” now. Starting with The UglyTruth and What’s Your Number? Then all the way to Train Wreck now. Or action ones–like the hitman one with Anna Kendrick.
LAURA: Mr. Right, I loved that one! But with the level of gore that movie had, we might as well go ahead and call Zombieland a romcom (the subplot with Emma Stone and Jesse Eisenberg is actually very “romcomy”). But I agree, another thing I miss are those late 90s teen romcoms. I caught Whatever It Takes on TV the other night. I had not seen it in ages but it’s such a fun movie (complete with the childhood friends trope we love so much). I feel like – and that goes for many of the movies of that time – if it had come out 10 years earlier it would probably be considered a cult classic now. A lot of these can totally hold up to some of the 80s classics but kinda fell through the cracks.
SAM: And the closest we get now is a shirtless Zac Efron with /insert co-lead here/ acting pretty ridiculous (though hilarious) until they get together in the end. The frat-boy humor along with a few ensemble ones (Pitch Perfect, Bridesmaid) have the love interest story, but not the standard romcom formula like the ones you mentioned. Whatever It Takes is one of the few DVDs I still own…so fabulous. “Oh, the things I do for you…”
LAURA: Today we either get comedy (which is fun every once in a while, I'm already looking forward to Why Him?), the sappy kind (I'm looking at you Nicholas Sparks) which is just not my cup of tea, or the edgy kind. There is however one newer movie that combines all of this, and it’s very high up on my list . Care to guess which one I mean?
SAM: Do I get a hint?
LAURA: I like to refer to it as “Crazy Stupid Love: Unplugged”
SAM: Oh! I forgot the name, the one about the writer and his family! That one was pretty great.
LAURA: Stuck in Love. Perfect cast, perfect amount of dark material, and a Stephen King cameo (just a phone call but still). It is probably more of a drama than a romcom but it's still one of these feel good movies, despite the darker topics and all. But my favorite thing about it is that it really doesn’t have a big story, just relationships. No assassins, zombies, or other distractions.
SAM: Exactly, and just the right amount of heart without being sappy. Though I do have to say I'm with you on missing the "typical" formulaic boy meets girl film. Yeah, they're predicable as hell, but no one sees them with the intention of figuring out the end anyway.
LAURA: That’s why watching a Hallmark movie (even a brand-new one) is basically like watching your favorite movie, you can probably quote the whole thing backwards but you still enjoy it every single time.
SAM: Yes! That's why they have such a market for them now–since they're not mainstream anymore. So the bickering enemies forced to work together, the best friends who are too stupid to realize they're meant for each other, or the colleagues who pretend to date for a school reunion/family gathering/dying grandma come to life on TV instead of the big screen.
LAURA: And that's not necessarily a bad thing. Basically we're getting a free movie almost every week– two a week around the holidays. And who knows maybe there will be a big romcom renaissance in a few years. But until then we can stream Whatever It Takes on Netflix.
SAM: Or, there's always writing one ourselves.
Peace, Love, and Lobsters
Laura (and Sam)