Dissecting the Romantic Comedy
So, let's say you're in the mood to go see a romantic comedy and the new Cameron Diaz film, "the Holiday" looks appealing because you love Jack Black and Kate Winslet. Don't do it. Go see "Stranger than Fiction", go rent "Shallow Hall" or "Titanic" (I'm just joking about that), heck, go dust your tv edited vcr copy of "When Harry Met Sally." Somehow, "The Holiday" succeeds in failing all of the romantic comedy tests:
Chemistry? not there. Except for Jude with the little girls. No one else has any chemistry. The leads? Nope.
Old movie references? Painful to watch.
Acting? Cameron Diaz is Keanu Reeve's female counterpart.
the meet cute? Totally described in the movie..like we the audience don't know what the "meet cute" is. Seriously!!!
Movie length? at least 30 minutes of this 2:15 movie could've been cut out.
Gratiutious, badly edited Diaz run? check.
I had to check the writing credits to see if Sorkin helped wrote one plot line...it played out like one of the weakest episodes of Studio 60.
The thing about a romantic comedy is that the audience already knows the plot. The difference between "Failure to Launch" and "When Harry Met Sally is the following things:
Chemistry. There's only about 15-45 minutes in a screenplay to figure out why these two characters should be together when they inevitably break up. As Sky Masterson says, he'll know when he finds his love to chance and chemistry. If the two leads don't have it, the movie won't fly. If they do, chemistry can gloss over other flaws in a movie. Another example of this is "Desk Set" with Tracy and Hepburn. Really one of their worst movies for several reasons...but I'll rewatch it any time because of the chemistry between the two.
Dialogue. If the movie has strong dialogue, plot holes and even a little chemistry can be forgiven. Remember the movie "You've got mail"? Really, not that great of a show. There was some chemistry, some plot holes...but the movie had dialogue, and that's why it gets watched and rewatched by quite a few people.
Gratuitous "classic romantic comedy" references This one is more of a beef of mine. Anymore, almost every romantic comedy refers to an older romantic comedy. "Sleepless"-"An Affair to Remember," " Harry Met Sally"-Casablanca (this reference did work). "Mail"-- "Pride and Prejudice," among others. Sometimes this works, but more often than not, the classic(this is referring to quality and not necessarily age) romantic comedies don't refer to an older piece of work.
Anyway, there's more common elements to the romantic comedy, some are so basic, I'm not going to mention them (unless I decide to go back and change this blog into a complete essay about the romantic comedy.