Romantic comedies that aren't big stinking piles of crap.

Romantic Comedies. Hate them. Can't stand to sit through one. Now half of you are saying "Well, that's just because you're a guy." I disagree. I've sat through my share of these comedies, each one on the promise that it's a well-made character driven film, only to be disappointed time and time again. It's not the sentiment that turns me off, it's the lack of quality storytelling. For one thing, they're all predictable. A chick from "Friends" or "Dawson's Creek" plays a smart, independent woman who meets the perfect man for her in the form of a guy from "Saturday Night Live" or some MTV show. But there's some sort of complication that keeps them from getting together, such as another woman, usually played by that supermodel who wants an acting career. Then there's a bit of mistaken identity or other tired comedy shtick that leads to a lot of longing gazes instead of laughs. And then it all ends where the couple kiss on a rooftop or in a park at sunset, to the sound of the latest top 40 ballad.

Secondly, romantic comedies always strike me as being incredibly fake. These people live in huge penthouse apartments, drive convertibles, wear designer clothes, hang out in coffee bars that are way too trendy to exist in real life, etc. Only the slightest bit of the population actually lives like these people. I suppose this is intended as the "fantasy" part of the films, but for me it only serves to alienate the characters from the audience.

And the guys in these films! If romantic comedies are supposedly made for women audiences, then why are all the male characters so bland and uninteresting? The Truth About Cats and Dogs is often marketed as a romantic comedy for both men and women, but the male lead in the film is little more than a perfectly-shaped Ken doll for Janene Garafolo and Uma Thurman to fight over. In Picture Perfect, the creators took away comedian Jay Mohr's normally wonderful cynicism and replaced it with a nice-guy "aw, shucks" grin. Inexcusable.

Finally, being in love may be a great thing, but it just doesn't make for interesting cinema. A story has to thrive on conflict. When filmmakers spend 10 minutes or more on showing us how happy a couple is together, all they're doing is boring the audience by not advancing the plot.

Even I, however, will admit that there are some exceptions, and there are some romantic comedies I have enjoyed. Why are they so good? I believe it's because the creators know the above failings, and work around them, making then more than just romances, but solid films.


As I said before, the romantic comedy is a kind of fantasy, so why not take it up a notch? The Princess Bride is a wonderfully twisted fairy tale that never quite becomes completely screwball. Its success is that it's grounded in the theme of true love. All of the swordfights, pirates, and the occasional R.O.U.S. are fun, but they always return to that theme.

Screenwriter William Goldman knows to get the big romantic part out of the way quickly. The couple, improbably named Wesley and Buttercup, pledge their love for each other early in the film, paving the way for the comedy to follow. However, as I said, the theme of true love keeps coming back to the forefront, reminding the audience that this is indeed a romance, and a classic one at that. Wesley and Buttercup's final kiss, accompanied by narration from Peter Falk, is nearly perfect.


Now here we have a film written in the same form as one of Shakespeare's comedies. It's still not as good as Shake himself, but it's a great tribute.

Now, a lot more time is spent here developing the relationship between Shake and his romantic interest, Viola. But unlike most romantic comedies, it works here for two reasons. One, because both characters are interesting, and enjoyable to watch on screen. This is of course thanks to great writing and acting. Second, because it never gets predictable. The script offers enough twists and turns to keep viewers guessing about what will happen. Also, the film has an unconventional ending, closing on a bittersweet note, but one that keeps you smiling as the credits roll.

Another key to the success of Shakespeare in Love is that it's really two stories in one. Running alongside the romance story is a behind-the-scenes look at the first cast of Romeo and Juliet. All of the eclectic characters and backstage antics are hilariously true to life. This part of the plot, which easily weaves in and out with the romance plot, add so much more life and interest to the film than if it were just about Shake and Viola. This is where the comedy part of the romantic comedy comes into it.


This is a lot more farcical than most romantic comedies, and it's some of the most riotous farce ever committed to film, but the romance element also works here. Unlike today's romantic comedies, which provide cookie cutter characters straight of the cover of People magazine, the characterization in Some Like it Hot is thorough and solid. We get a sense of who these people are. We look into their insecurities, their hopes, etc. By the time they ride off at the end, we're right there with them because we feel like we know them. Of course, there's a great laugh at the end, too, something sorely missing from a lot of today's comedies.


Well I just saw this movie the other night and remembered how much I love it. It might be because of the way Kate Beckinsale lights up the screen (good lord she is gorgeous). However, I am too tired to continue writing everything I should about this movie in order to give it the full recognition it deserves, but I strongly recommend it. If you're a guy, I promise you'll enjoy it.


Ok, I know you people have been waiting anxiously for my script for a perfect romantic here it is. Let's start from the very beginning of the movie. We begin with a Louis Armstrong song. "I'm in heaven" is so perfect. The camera starts off by focusing on a single snowflake as it falls gently to the ground on a crisp winter day in late December. The wind blows it around crazily almost as if it's dancing to symbolize the bustling of the Christmas season. The camera follows the snowflake as it pans down the main street of the town. We see the busy Christmas shoppers, the men in Santa suits ringing bells for the salvation army, the innocent kids having a snowball fight, the child looking in awe through the window of the toy store at the model train, and the hectic drivers honking their horns. The snowflake lands gently on the ground in front of our star, Kate Beckinsale. Keep in mind that this is a light snow, one that barely sticks to the ground, but still enough to have a small snowball fight. Kate is carrying a couple small bags and rustling through her purse to find her keys not looking up when she runs into (me, I'm the actor, it's my movie dammit. I'm the actor and director. Ya know, trying to save a little bit on overhead) while he is doing the same thing she is. They drop everything and while picking it up bump heads. They say their apologies and continue on their way, but each character realizes a couple minutes later that they have one of the other character's bags....writer's block, I'll continue this later.