Now, what you all have been waiting for...The Romantic Comedy! This is the most standard of chick flicks and, sadly, where they get their bad name. Not all of them, of course, but a nice handful that might include: Catch and Release, Must Love Dogs, America's Sweethearts, Alex and Emma, and Autumn in New York and those are just off the top of my head. The romantic comedy has become what tabloids are to news world; completely without merit. But let's focus on the good, shall we? I'm sure there will be plenty of time to focus on the bad. These movies can range from extreme comedy and a little romance (like 50 First Dates and Forgetting Sarah Marshall) to mostly romance and a little comedy (like Kate and Leopold and Sweet Home Alabama). Many comedians are cast in these films and praised for coming out of their comfort zones (see Will Ferrell in Bewitched, Adam Sandler in The Wedding Singer, Robin Williams in License to Wed and Ben Stiller in There's Something About Mary). These comedians are paired with America's sweethearts like Meg Ryan (with Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally), Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock, Renee Zellweger and Reese Witherspoon.
The newest queen of the rom-com is Kate Hudson and her best rom-com by far is 2003's How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. When I told people that I was working on the rom-com, this is the movie that stuck out. This is, believe it or not, a good film. It takes on a battle of the sexes theme where Andie Anderson (Hudson) is an ambitious magazine columnist who aspires to be a serious journalist (you know, politics, religion, foreign affairs) but who must commit to her present "How-to-girl" position at the fastest growing women's magazine, Composure. She is really charming, funny, smart, and is such a good friend to poor Michelle, who just can seem to stay in a relationship. Michelle, who is brilliantly played by Kathryn Hahn, is really fresh and interesting even though her character is sad and pathetic. It's also really refreshing to see your lead actress as the wiser, consoling best friend who isn't so wrapped up in her love life that she risks her career to wallow. Bebe Neuwirth plays Andie's boss, who is an abomination to womankind. The horrific stereotype of a big city, magazine editor is a minor setback in an otherwise decent film
Benjamin Berry(charismatic Matthew McConaughey) is Andie as a man; an advertising representative that wants to branch out from booze and sportswear to a more high-class medium, maybe the feminine realm of diamonds. It's interesting to see the gender stereotypes played against men when Ben's boss (Robert Klein) picks two women to take on the diamond account while Ben must fight for his right as a professional. These two instances in Andie and Ben's work environments create the plot. I guess what I liked about these characters is that they aspire to do something more substantial with their careers. It actually reminds me of the purpose of my blog.
Ebert unfortunately seemed to take the premise of this movie a little too seriously and did not share my respect for people trying to get ahead in their careers. His opinion is understandable when we situate the plot in real life, a characteristic of his reviews, but while bets can be mean I don't think that makes this movie heartless. Some other critics that give fair reviews are The Cincinnati Enquirer, The New York Times, and The San Francisco Chronicle. What I really like about this one is that it continually makes fun of itself the entire way through. One of my favourite scenes is the Chick Flick Marathon that features the biggest, most macho looking guy beating up Ben because he interrupted his viewing of Sleepless in Seattle. The movie is made up of a juxtaposition of the stereotypical masculine and feminine from Celine Dion concerts to boy's poker night. This works really well with the bet/work experiment storyline because they are constantly driving each other crazy. So while appreciating the choices made I also have a really fun time watching them. All in all there are definite problems with this film that are rooted in the problems of the genre, but if you get a good one, you can be sure you're in for a laugh and some fun!
Favourite quotes: Another make-fun-of-itself moment with one of the cheesiest pick-up lines there is. "100 times more beautiful than 100 roses!"-Michelle, "He's in advertising, he can't help himself"-Andie
Watch the first half: If you aren't sure about watching this one than I suggest watching the first half. The ending is obvious so no need to worry about closure and the first half is a lot more compelling than the second based on the plot setup, character interaction and lack of angsty, weepy revelations that can bring down an otherwise upbeat movie.
Chemistry level: 6/5. If the movie sucked, the chemistry between Hudson and McConaughey might just save it. A pair of smart producers tried to bank on it again in Fool's Gold but I guess magic only happens once.
Best Performance: Katherine Hahn steals every scene she is in, definitely when she poses as a couple's therapist, but Kate Hudson is the best I've seen her since Almost Famous. She is the perfect insane, over-the-top girlfriend who must inspire women who watch it to pay closer attention to their relationship habits.
Misconstrued messages: While I honestly believe that this movie is goodhearted in its intent I did notice how a few messages could be taken the wrong way. Based on the plot resolution one might notice that if you wait long enough, the guy who dumped you for being too clingy will come back to you. As well as if you wait, your girlfriend will get less crazy and your boyfriend will do anything possible to save your relationship, no matter how premature. Another good one is, if your relationship is failing go meet the family because that will save it. And last but not least, I'm sure Ebert would approve, it's okay to take advantage of people to get ahead in your career.
List of Rom-Com Requirements
The catchphrase: A repeated phrase or word, for example bullsh*t, to create the perfect, symbolic moment between the characters at the end of the movie.
The chase scene: When someone chases someone before they leave town, maybe by motorcycle on a bridge. Isn't that what cellphones are for?
Reveal: A recurring location of a black tie event where an ignorant party reveals all the secrets that causes a dramatic exit.
Parallel lives: Ben has two friends and so does Andie. Andie's are female and Ben's are male. They both give advice and comic relief. Andie has a female boss and Ben has a male boss. Both bosses set up the situations of the bet and the story that creates the plot. But where is Andie's family?
For more check out the video on 10 Chick Flick Cliches that can be found in this film and many others.
** * * 1/2* *Director:* Luca Guadagnino *Starring:* Timothee Chalamet, Armie Hammer To speak or to die. That's the question at the heart of *Call Me By You...