Showing posts with label romantic comedies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label romantic comedies. Show all posts

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Isn't It Romantic (2019) Knows How To Be A Copy But Not Exactly Original

Warner Bros. Pictures
Natalie (Rebel Wilson) cherished romantic comedies as a young girl, watching Pretty Woman with wide-eyed optimism and believing her own life could turn into an epic fairytale. When her mom shatters her dreams that women like them don’t get their happily-ever-after, she grows up to be cynical about love and the genre she used to adore. And then she suffers a traumatic concussion and wakes up in her ultimate nightmare: a rom-com. Her life is flipped upside down with an apartment straight out of Architectural Digest, a bustling career, and an impending engagement to a hot yet superficial millionaire (Liam Hemsworth). The only way Natalie can return to reality is to fall in love, but that’s a little hard when it’s the last thing she wants.

As much as romantic comedies have found resurgence on streaming services, the typical genre of a woman searching for the love of her life has changed drastically over the years. Landing Mr. Right while living in a fancy apartment and having a career of every woman’s dreams has made way for rom-coms to feature more realistic views of dating, singledom, and marriage. Modern stories have commonly explored imperfect relationships with female characters struggling to balance work, love, motherhood, and friendships. By trying to take a page out of the chick flicks that have paved the way with tropes and running gags, Isn’t It Romantic doesn’t quite know how to be a parody of the traditional genre and say something new.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Crazy Rich Asians (2018) Puts A Feminist Twist on Rom-Com Fairytale

Warner Bros. Pictures
Anyone who’s anyone has probably heard of Crazy Rich Asians, Kevin Kwan's international bestselling book that's taken the literary world by storm since 2013. If you haven't, chances are you'll know its name now with the critically acclaimed adaptation closely following its lead. And for good reason: director Jon M Chu charms with a story about love, sacrifice and identity that'll sweep you off your feet.

An economics professor Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) is invited by her boyfriend Nick Young (Henry Golding) to attend a family wedding. Making a good first impression to your possible-in-laws is naturally intimidating, but Chu’s meet-and-greet brings a shocking revelation: Young is the prized son to one of the richest families in Singapore and the approval of his mother Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh) is extraordinarily difficult to earn; so much so, it might end up tearing them apart.

At first glance, Crazy Rich Asians is a lighthearted, endearing movie that's pretty much like every other romantic comedy: pretty people falling head over heels for each other in wonderful locations set to an addictive soundtrack. But sometimes the best rom-coms have substance as well as style, and this film has both in spades; especially the latter starring women (and men) struggling to sacrifice or uphold a part of their identity and traditions to appease the people they love.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Where Did All The Rom-Coms Go?

Similar to studios releasing horror movies into theaters at New Years or Christmas movies in July, romantic comedies haven't been relegated to February releases in several years. But it still has remained a strange mood to adjust to when Cupid's month rolls around and there isn't a bundle of swoon-worthy films to enjoy a girls' weekend or single's dalliance at the theaters. In fact, looking at the next year ahead in 2017, only a handful of romantic-centered movies are coming out in theaters or on a streaming service like Netflix. And the lack of popularity of this once inescapable genre makes me ask: where did all the rom-coms go?

While pondering about recent releases at home and in theaters, I reasoned that my inability to find more options was because my own personal tastes for this genre are limited. Generally, I like to be swept off of my feet, but prefer rom-coms where the characters aren't around to fill a 'swooning' quota, the script offers dynamic dialogue, and the story has something other to offer than just two people falling in love. Mostly, I don't like to watch comedies where guys just ogle the girl-next-door or use women for their own macho rivals with other bros. My favorites run the lines between You've Got Mail and Bridget Jones’s Diary to sweeping epics like Titanic and Pride and Prejudice - basically flicks that could be denounced as a romantic movie at a glance but I'm not compelled to defend its chick flick sensibilities.

In looking back on films in 2016, I realized the grand sum of what I had seen was two: How To Be Single, a hot mess about three women learning to be single by not being single, and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies which pits Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy against the zombie apocalypse.  Even though my own preferred style of rom-coms is limited, I was hard-pressed to find not only rom-coms where the women are swept off their feet but lifestyle movies - where women are as focused on their career and family as they are on their relationships - and came up short. Whether released online or in theaters, around or far-away from Valentine's Day, the genre has slowly started to wither away.

But if rom-coms aren't as popular as they used to be, have they subtly transformed into another genre altogether that we just can't recognize them anymore.

There's nothing inherently wrong about movies where women find the love of their lives. We escape from real life in many ways, and surely, one of them is to have an amazing designer wardrobe, high-profile job, and finding fervent fantasies with Mr and Mrs Right through our celebrity crushes. However, considering some of the biggest money makers or influential actresses over the past few years, women flocked to theaters to see many different types of movies, and yet the genre hasn't been able to maintain its previous influence:

The Devil Wears Prada put Anne Hathaway and Emily Blunt on the map as assistants to a powerful fashion magazine editor played by Meryl Streep. The movie focuses on the duo getting ahead in their careers and the double standards of female bosses versus men.

Magic Mike flipped the tables on women as the typical eye-candy by turning Hollywood’s hottest ab-actors like Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey into strippers.

Bridesmaids, with Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Rose Bryne, and, was the female answer to The Hangover, where competition between a maid-of-honor and a bridesmaid causes chaos before a friend’s wedding.

Over the years, rom-coms have changed from the inside out. Thanks to the likes of comedians like Melissa McCarthy, Sandra Bullock, and Kristen Wiig, women have moved into the comedy genre where their characters purely bring on the laughs instead of the love. Meanwhile, other actresses like Reese Witherspoon and Julia Roberts have grown out of the  'American Sweethearts' image to take on more mature, complicated roles, and more up-and-coming actresses strive for complex roles in indies and dramas than the typical boy-meets-girl route in young adult.

Just as moviegoers want to see more dynamic women in science-fiction, fantasy, and action, women in romance have come to closely resemble real women living next-to-normal lives. More subtly, other types of movies focusing on relationships or singledom have come to the forefront in the form of independent movies focusing on heartbreak or topical social issues: A broken marriage was torn to pieces with Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling’s characters in Blue Valentine; Joseph Gordon-Levitt went through the complicated seasons of love to co-star Zooey Deschanel in the indie 500 Days of Summer; a comedian played by Jenny Slate faces having an abortion after a one-night stand in Obvious Child. And if a film still centers on a women's love life, the dynamics of stories we used to know like the back of our hands have changed: characters aren't limited to just being completed by someone else, women befriend other women without becoming enemies or fighting over the same guy, and are starting to prominently feature LGBTQ couples and minorities.

In asking myself where did the rom-com genre go, I also have to ask how it has changed. It hasn’t necessarily gone anywhere – just that the ones we're used to are on a break. To have any sort of comeback at all, the genre has to become smarter, well-rounded, and inclusive.

What do you guys think? Do you miss rom-coms? Let me know in the comments below!