Chick flicks are to women what pinup girls are to men. Both paint a completely unrealistic picture of the opposite sex, and significant others are always wondering why their better halves can’t see through the ridiculousness of either product.
But while the romance genre is saturated with two-dimensional characters and cut-and-paste plot devices, there are a few quality films that transcend the Matthew McConaughey one-liners and Patrick Swayze tight pants.
When Harry Met Sally
“When Harry Met Sally” is the blueprint for almost every romantic comedy that came after it. It poses the question, “Can men and women really be friends, or does physical attraction always get in the way?”
There’s nothing rushed about the R-rated “When Harry Met Sally,” even though the story spans 12 years of friendship. The dialogue is smart and the humor is subtle, but it’s the chemistry between Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan that carries the film. Everything about this movie is understated, right down to the soundtrack crooned by Harry Connick Jr. That same subtlety allows for the audience to really enjoy the story of a true-to-life romance that stems from friendship.
Perhaps the only openly chick-flick film I’ll seek out on a regular basis.
I believe it was on the DVD commentary where I first heard Rob Reiner state he didn’t want the main characters to get together in the end, and I think that served the finished product wonderfully.
Because the film wasn’t designed to rush into a forced, over-the-top love confession, it works first as a film about friendship. Love stories that take their time building a genuine friendship, like another R-rated 80’s classic, “Some Kind of Wonderful,” generally have more to offer than just the inevitable “You complete me” line in the final two minutes.
Johnny Depp oozes charisma. With that said, you still couldn’t pay me to sit through the next installment of “Pirates.”
Before he sold his soul to Disney, Johnny Depp was in the lesser-known romantic film, “Chocolat.” The story is set in a small French village, where Vianne and her daughter are brought by the wind to a devoutly Catholic town where they open a confectionery during lent. With a whimsical and mysterious air about her, Vianne uses her uncanny knowledge of chocolate to help the townspeople and to land herself a love interest, played by Depp.
I don’t like to play into stereotypes, but any movie starring Depp and co-starring chocolate is a film that I’d bet most women would enjoy. I suggest shoveling spoonfuls of Nutella into your mouth while watching this film, which is rated PG-13, as you’ll be craving chocolate midway through. As for craving Johnny Depp, chocolate won’t help you there.
“Chocolat” is a slow-roasted film that moves because of its characters’ distinct and oftentimes unrelated motivations — a style of storytelling I find completely fascinating and far-removed from a movie like, say, “The Wedding Planner.”
But before renting “Chocolat” this Valentine’s Day, make sure you know what you’re getting into. This is not the movie you want if you’re doing a quick dinner and a show. The two-hour running time is a leisurely one, and if you’re too tired to invest in the experience, you may want to look elsewhere.
That warning aside, “Chocolat” is a beautiful film that I would recommend to anyone.
Travis is going to rip me to shreds on this one.
This story was geared toward women — like myself. The writer sat back and thought, “What do women want? I’ve got it! They want to be pined over, fought over, gently stalked just enough to be flattered but without any violence, and they want it all from Ryan Goseling! By George, I have my story!” And hence, “The Notebook,” rated PG-13, was written and adapted into a movie that women everywhere swoon over.
The story centers around Allie and Noah, a young couple in love and torn apart by Allie’s wealthy and controlling parents. They find their way back to each other and rekindle their romance, when the story fast-forwards to their life together in a convalescent home.
I’m a sucker for over-the-top romance. “The Notebook” is as cheesy as it gets, with mushy one-liners and a story that makes men roll their eyes with the impossibility of it. But like Patrick Swayze in tight pants, it does the job and it’s a perfect guilty pleasure.
Nikki already wrote way more about this movie than I considered possible. If you’re willing to read a spoiler, let me tell you everything you need to know about this film. (SPOILER) The two characters die at the end, at the same time, of like … love … disease, or maybe hope-atitis. I don’t know, but it was painful.
As Good As It Gets
“As Good As It Gets” is like the anti-“Notebook.” It isn’t an obvious romance. The male love interest isn’t very lovable but somehow — maybe because he was played by Jack Nicholson — comes across as endearing despite being a abhorrent racist homophobe who throws small dogs.
Nicholson plays the part of Melvin Udall, a sardonic writer who lets out a stream of invective to anyone within earshot. The only person in New York who can stomach the man is a single waitress, Carol, played by Helen Hunt. Eventually, and this is why it falls into the romance category, he professes that she, “makes him want to be a better man.” That’s a compliment most women wouldn’t mind hearing on Valentine’s Day — or any other day of the year.
I didn’t love “As Good as it Gets,” but it may work for your night out. It definitely has some funny moments, and if nothing else, the performances were sincere.
Silver Linings Playbook
I think inevitably, everyone will fall in love with Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. You may currently have a general disinterest in them, or possibly you’ve seen something you don’t like them in, but give it time – you’ll love them soon enough.
For me, they were both on my like-fine-enough list until that little 2012 film, “Silver Linings Playbook.” After experiencing that little gem of a story, I don’t care if they’re voicing raccoons or playing naked blue girls, I’m absolutely interested in their project lineup and rarely disappointed in the finished product.
This is a film that made me nervous, weepy, happy, and ready to cheer for their terrible dance score, and I never cheer for terrible dance scores.
I’d probably see any movie starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert Deniro. They have good joo joo together. But Silver Linings Playbook would have been on my top ten rom-com list without the big name cast.
If you consider yourself sane and think a love story with mentally disturbed main characters is unrelatable, you’d be dead wrong. In actuality some of us may reign in the crazy better than others, but like Jennifer Lawrence’s character, we’re all a little dirty and sloppy at times. In actuality, Silver Linings Playbook doesn’t stray too much from the romantic comedy formula, even wrapping up the film with a dance and dramatic lift (that fails) ala “Dirty Dancing,” or “The Cutting Edge.” But it’s a nice break from romances where the leads tend to be flawless, save the female’s tendency to be clumsy or the males inability to immediately appreciate the girl next door.
I can’t think of anything more romantic than the entire universe skipping like a broken record until one guy wins the heart of the girl he’s meant to be with.
Bill Murray was definitely an interesting choice for a romantic comedy lead, but I think “Groundhog Day” was the first time audiences realized there was more to the actor than just a crazy groundskeeper or witty paranormal entrepreneur. His transformation from complete egotist to someone worthy of girl-next-door Andie MacDowell was, and still is, one of my favorite Murray showings. I don’t know how this could miss on Valentine’s Day.
It’s odd. By most standards, Andie MacDowell is a physically attractive person. Bill Murray, not so much. But he’s far more appealing to me in this movie than she, which makes it hard to believe he’d suffer through the same day repeatedly to win over such a dull female lead. But that’s my only beef with this film.
Actually, I have one more beef with it. If you have to kill yourself trying to convince someone to fall in love with you, than it probably wasn’t meant to be in the first place. This fact alone kicks the movie out of the running for me.
Am I reading too much into this?
Safety Not Guaranteed
“Safety Not Guaranteed” is a great way to sneak some sci-fi into your romantic comedy.
Following intern reporter Darius (Aubrey Plaza) while she investigates probably-crazy time traveler Kenneth (Mark Duplass), made for an adventure that hit several critics’ top-10 lists in 2012.
For me, the “Safety” was just a refreshingly geeky change of pace to an otherwise airbrushed genre. Sure, Plaza is beautiful, and I imagine Duplass has his days, but this film is for the outcasts. For those of us who will never achieve heartthrob status, and maybe held onto our Star Wars action figures a few years longer than we should have, this film gives us a high-five and tells us there’s happiness for us somewhere in this crazy world as well.
Think “K-Pax” meets “Juno,” without the teenage pregnancy and with a corky romance thrown in.
“Safety not Guaranteed” was a pleasant surprise, since sci-fi and romance don’t typically jive. If falling in love is really about welcoming someone else into your weird little world and vice versa, than it was right on the money.
If you’re on the go this year and don’t have time for an entire film, but still want to share an enchanted moment with someone you care about, “Paperman” is brilliant.
In what might be the coolest thing Disney has done on its own since before it deferred to Pixar for everything creative, Disney introduced a captivating hybrid of 2-D and 3-D animation in a six-minute short before 2012’s “Wreck-it Ralph.”
As someone who loves traditional animation, I gave my heart to this piece for other reasons. However, the story is a great little fantasy for all of those what-if moments we never get to see through to conclusion.
I loved “Paperman.” It’s a throwback to traditional animation, like Travis mentioned, and a sweet boy-meets-girl story. Disney took a step back from 3-D and fart jokes, and came up with something lovely.