Friday, January 11, 2019

A rant about a rom-com

Impatiently waiting for the new series of Grace and Frankie which begins next week, and too tired to read, I needed something to watch on Netflix, so I turned to a rom-com that one of my brothers had recommended. I'd come across it previously but spurned it because of its bad reviews.

The reviews were justified. It was terrible. It was the kind of rom-com that gets rom-coms a bad name, and this makes me cross. It's not as if there aren't some good ones out there. My two recent favourites have been The Big Sick (which sounds revolting, I know, but don't let the title put you off) and one for teenagers called To All the Boys I've Loved Before (also recommended by my brother.)

The one I watched was an hour too long and needed a rewrite by someone like the late great Nora Ephron, who understood romantic comedy and knew how to write intelligent funny dialogue. I watched this film in three bursts because I was so tired and because is was sooooo loooonnnngggg. Ugh. 

So why, you ask, did I keep watching? 

Because of Jude Law, who I have heard of but never seen before, and who was so yummy I couldn't believe he was real. I was in a swoon the whole time he was on screen. 

But I kept puzzling why four such successful actors had agreed to be in such awful codswallop. The money, I guess. They were Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Jack Black (an unappealing romantic lead) and Cameron Diaz. Ms Diaz had the opposite effect on me that Jude Law had, which was a big problem as these two were paired up, so every time JL had a scene, the awful ditzy and unconvincing character played by CD was also on screen. I don't know if she is always like that, but I couldn't stand her. She was the human equivalent of sugar pink. 

The film? It's called The Holiday. There was probably a decent film in there somewhere, but it needed ruthless cutting and a complete rewrite of the dialogue between CD and JL, and actually, CD's character needed transforming. And for my personal taste I'd replace CD with another actress (sic) and replace Jack Black with someone attractive because he is just not romantic lead material. 

You may think I'm being harsh, but as a genuine aficionado of the rom-com genre, and as a writer who has been wrestling with the writing of a recalcitrant novel for two years (my fifth novel), and who has also tried her best at screenwriting, I do know what I'm talking about. The last time I trashed a film on the blog was in June 2010, so I think I can be forgiven. Of course, I'm really cross about something else, but I'm sure you have sufficient political angst in your life already, and don't need any more from me.

Here's a list of rom-coms I approve of 

Top Hat

The Philadelphia Story


When Harry Met Sally

Sleepless in Seattle


Crossing Delancey

Pretty Woman 

Four Weddings and a Funeral

My Best Friend's Wedding


While You Were Sleeping

The Truth About Cats and Dogs

The Big Sick

Finding Your Feet  (though it has its faults)

It's Complicated

All the Boys I've Loved Before

I'm sure I've left something out.  Does anyone have any other suggestions?


Sally said...

Morning Sue, You list some of my favourites
When Harry met Sally
Sleepless in Seattle
Four Weddings & a Funeral.

I'm also a fan of

Bridge Jones Diary
Notting Hill
Annie Hall

Have you seen, liked or disliked these?
Always enjoy a favourite rom con to lift my mood 😊

Sue Hepworth said...

Hi Sally, I don’t think much of Notting Hill, and I need to try Annie Hall again. I thought the book Bridget Jones Diary was far better than the film, but yes, the film is OK.
I am not generally keen on Richard Curtis films, apart from Four Weddings. I thought Love Actually was awful - I could not get past the first half hour.

Sally said...

We agree regarding Love Actually!

Thinking about it, a film I rewatch frequently is 'A Room with a View'. Funny & romantic definitely but not sure if it strictly speaking is a rom com?

marmee said...

Oh yes I agree , A Room with a View is a delicious movie ! I do think it could be called a rom com?? And I have started watching Grace and Frankie and yes indeed I am enjoying it very much, Very different from what I had expected.

Sue Hepworth said...

Oh, Marmee, I am so glad you’re enjoying G and F. I was worrying you might not like it.
Sally, I shall have to buy Room with a View and add it to my stock of rom-coms. I did enjoy it when I saw it some years ago,

Phoebe said...

I have comments about almost every movie you list but I will keep this short. The Holiday - agreed. Kate Winslet is beautiful but not thin so therefore she’s paired up with someone smarmy and awful. Cats and Dogs - liked that. Four Weddings - always a guilty pleasure although Andie McDowell can’t act and ruins the movie (she was a fill-in). Loathed, loathed The Big Sick because if its male ethnic chauvinism (don’t get me started). Charade - love although I wouldn’t call it a rom-com, and finally...The Philadelphia Story. The gold standard to which nothing has ever come close.

Sue Hepworth said...

Ah, interesting and insightful comment about Kate Winslet! I too hated Andie McDowell, and actually I didn’t like the character she played either.
I wish you were here to discuss the Big Sick with, and also to hear your comments about the other films. My favourites are When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle.