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Thursday, February 04, 2010

Cinema Manifesto: Romantic Comedies


Most romantic comedies are neither comedies nor even faintly romantic. Hollywood hardly makes a romantic comedy these days unless it has some sort of ridiculous gimmick. Movie people have something they call a log line which is usually a one sentence summary of the film. For most romantic comedies the log line involves some sort of idiotic high jinks.

Here are a few egregious examples of this practice:

Two people make an agreement that if neither of them were married by the time they turned 28, they would marry each other.

Benjamin Barry is an advertising executive and ladies' man who, to win a big campaign, bets that he can make a woman fall in love with him in 10 days. Andie Anderson covers the "How To" beat for "Composure" magazine and is assigned to write an article on "How to Lose a Guy in 10 days." They meet in a bar shortly after the bet is made.

Julianne fell in love with her best friend the day he decided to marry someone else.

A pushy boss forces her young assistant to marry her in order to keep her Visa status in the U.S. and avoid deportation to Canada.

Beth is a young, ambitious New Yorker who is completely unlucky in love. However, on a whirlwind trip to Rome, she impulsively steals some coins from a reputed fountain of love, and is then aggressively pursued by a band of suitors.

I know, I know, you are saying “Please, please just fucking stop already.” I just have one more that you may like:

A group of high school football players have a bet to see who can impregnate the most girls before the end of the season.

I just made that one up but I expect some Hollywood agent to smash my door down with an offer any minute now. I’m pretty sure that somewhere in the Microsoft Word program there is a template for creating romantic comedy log lines and this is what Hollywood writers use to crank out this seemingly endless supply of insultingly bad movies.

Just why Hollywood has this compulsive need to summarize a film in one sentence is beyond my understanding. Do people really base their movie attendance on a one-sentence synopsis of the plot? Do movie goers really want to see a romantic comedy that is constructed upon the basis of a moronic gimmick? Does anyone really like Sandra Bullock? How much would she charge us to stop making movies?

Here’s an idea for a romantic comedy: a story about two normal human beings with average jobs who somehow meet and are attracted to each other? It’s such a completely crazy idea that it just may work.