Tag Archives: Romantic Comedy

How to Watch: “Just Go with It”

Step 1: If you’re an Adam Sandler fan, you’ll probably just go with this one. If not, you might just go with another movie.

Step 2: Repeat. Just Go With It is regurgitated Sandler rom-com schtick, light on story, heavy on babes in bikinis. Sandler plays Danny, a plastic surgeon who has been pretending to be married to pick up girls for most of his life. But then he finds who he thinks is THE one – a 23-year-old 6th grade school teacher named Palmer (Brooklyn Decker) – and suddenly he wants to settle down. Except Palmer freaks out when she finds the fake wedding ring, and Danny has to make up a fictitious and vicious wife from whom he is divorcing. Enter Danny’s loyal assistant Katherine (Jennifer Aniston), who somehow agrees to play said wife – and even lets her two kids become their fake kids. Long story short, they all end up on vacation together in Hawaii where the lies just keep building and building. Try to guess who Danny ends up with.

Step 3: Repeat, without the same energy. Even for Sandler’s standards, the funnyman really seems to be phoning this one in. He doesn’t even have one decent flip-out scene, in which he screams something like “Are you too good for your HOME?” Maybe the guy is mellowing in his older age – that or he’s just making the same movie over and over again to make his millions and move on. Still, I have faith in Sandler. I’ve seen Punch Drunk Love and I know what he is capable of. I’m just hoping at some point his stupid movies will stop making money, and he’ll be forced to re-evaluate his career. I’m pretty sure Aniston has reached that point right now. She is just box office poison these days despite being appealing on screen. I’m on her side, too, just like Sandler. Maybe these two, who do share a fair bit of chemistry in Just Go with It, could make a quirky indie drama or something.

Step 4: Repeat, with eye candy. Most of Sandler’s cronies join him in Just Go with It, including his go-to director Dennis Dugan. But there is one surprise guest: Nicole Kidman. The oh-so-serious actress takes a laughter break to play Katherine’s old college roomie, a superficial conniver who Katherine has always hated. It is fun to see Kidman loosen up and play someone over the top. Of course, there’s also Decker, the total eye candy of the film. Poor thing, she really doesn’t have much to do besides stand there and look gorgeous. And honestly, Aniston looks just as good.

Adam, babe, I think you’ve saturated the market with your pointless comedies. Time to move on

How to Watch: “Valentine’s Day”

Step 1: Sigh. Sure, Valentine’s Day smacks cute and is probably an adequate date movie – but it doesn’t really inspire genuine tingling, feel-good sentiments that a well-crafted film of this genre should do – a film like Love Actually, the British equivalent.

Step 2: Try as you may. Valentine’s Day makes a valiant effort to fulfill its expectations, with lots of pretty people, cavorting on the one day devoted to love, falling in love, breaking up, making up, deciding to and not to have sex for the first time, accepting proposals, rejecting them, admitting past infidelities, committing them now – and flying half way around the world to be with the one person who means everything to you. But unlike Love Actually, the V-Day‘s intertwining stories aren’t all that special or even compelling. Of the jillion of actors in it – from Ashton Kutcher, Jennifer Garner, Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Jamie Foxx, Topher Grace, Anne Hathaway, Emma Roberts, Shirley MacLaine, Hector Elizondo – only a few stand out. Julia Roberts is definitely one, as a soldier returning home for one night before having to go back overseas, but she’s onscreen all of about six minutes. As is Taylor Swift, as a dopey, hilarious, lovesick teenager. But that’s about it.

Step 3: Lament the overall state of the American rom-com. This year so far has been a big bust when it comes to romantic comedies. Leap Year was abysmally dull, save for a few moments generated by Amy Adams, while When in Rome was just too silly for words. Why are the studios so afraid to step out of their comfort zone? I mean, we have some indies taking a chance and twisting the genre brilliantly, like (500) Days of Summer, a quirky, sweet and maybe not so happily ended flick but satisfying nonetheless. Or the rom-coms overseas, like Love Actually. The studio’s one bright spot in the genre was last year’s He’s Just Not That Into You, but that might be because it was a specific theme on love and commitment – or lack thereof. Valentine’s Day’s generalized saccharine could be blamed on director Garry Marshall’s vanilla, ultra-formulaic direction, but that, too, sounds like a cop out. No, I think the studios need to step away from what they think is safe and just mix it up.

Level of difficulty in watching Valentine’s Day: It’s not so bad – but it does make you want to rent Love Actually.

How to Dine “When in Rome”

I usually just post trailers, but today, I thought I’d post a movie clip from the upcoming romantic comedy When in Rome, starring Kristen Bell and Josh Duhamel. This clip is called “Dark Dining” and it’s pretty self explanatory. Eating food in the complete darkness would make for an interesting evening, I’d have to say. Here, watch for yourself:

This might actually be a fun look-see. And I love that chick from Flight of the Conchords.

How to Have a Hot “Back-Up Plan”

OK, I’m not entirely sure how meet-cute this new romantic comedy The Back-Up Plan with Jennifer Lopez is going to be, but the guy she’s falling for, Alex O’Loughlin — the same guy from the former vampire detective show Moonlight — is, like, totally smokin’. Here, watch the trailer:

Oh yes. Complete eye candy. Good for you, J.Lo, to come back from motherhood oblivion doing something you know how to do AND for getting another hot guy to do it with.

How to Watch: “It’s Complicated”

Step 1: Keep it simple. It’s Complicated thankfully isn’t – as a romantic comedy, that is. It’s pretty straight forward, funny stuff, bolstered by terrific performances and a script that zings.

Step 2: Realize, of course, it’s life that can be complicated – at least for Jane (Meryl Streep). Divorced for 10 years, she has built a nice life for herself and their three kids, running her own business. She has even finally gotten to a place where she can redo her house they way she wants it. Yet, she unexpectedly finds herself having an affair with her now-remarried-to-a-younger-woman ex, Jake (Alec Baldwin), which begins after a drunken night they spend together at their son’s college graduation and continues when they get back home. While Jake  feels great about it, finally realizing how much he needs her back in his life, Jane has knots in her stomach. Yes, she’s flattered. Yes, there’s some payback involved. But this isn’t what she really wants in her life now, especially after all they’ve been through. And to complicate things further, Jane is also being wooed by the architect (Steve Martin) designing her house add-ons. She definitely needs to resolve this one way or another before her kids find out.

Step 3: Meryl as … Meryl. This may be the first time in a LONG time Meryl Streep basically plays herself. No accents, no wigs, no singing and dancing – just Meryl as an attractive, smart, slightly befuddled 60-ish mom, who loves her kids, bakes a mean chocolate croissant – and can charm the pants off the men in her life. Thing is, we all know she can do it without the props, so it’s just nice to see her do it au natural once in awhile. She finds a nice balance with Alec Baldwin, who gives us another cad of sorts. You can understand why Jane does what she does, but you’re glad with her final decision. I’m not sure if Baldwin was the best choice to play the part; he just doesn’t quite hit it for me, especially as a divorced dad of three kids. So then I tried thinking about who would have been better and came up with Kevin Kline. Wouldn’t a Sophie’s Choice reunion have been cool? Ah, well. And I do like it when Steve Martin plays it straight and sweet, as he does here. He really is a pretty good actor, so I scratch my head at some of his choices sometimes (hint: don’t do anymore Pink Panthers, please). As for the other supporting cast, The Office‘s John Krasinski stands out as the soon-to-be son-in-law, whose finds out about Jake and Jane in a most hilarious way.

Step 4: Write what you know. Gotta hand it to her – writer/director Nancy Meyers has a knack for this older generational, romantic comedy stuff. And boy, she likes to empower her women characters. With her other films, such as Something’s Gotta Give, Meyers has a very funny and poignant perspective on love over 50, and with It’s Complicated, she also delves into the long-term after-effects of divorce.  How Jane has coped but has come out of it more successful than Jake and how Jane fostered a very close knit bond with her now grown up kids (played by Zoe Kazan, Caitlin Fitzgerald and Hunter Parish), who you can also see had to rely on each other when times got tough. Sure, there’s a bit of a sugar coating over it all, but the film still deals with it honestly.

Level of difficulty in watching It’s Complicated: Easy peasey – and lots of fun.

How Life Gets “Complicated”

Well, more how Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin’s lives get Complicated. This trailer to the new romantic comedy It’s Complicated from Nancy Meyers, the same chick who did Something’s Gotta Give, looks rather entertaining:

I love the fact that Meryl is having such a momentous surge in her career. I mean, she is now a major box office draw at the age of 60! Usually actresses are playing secondary grandmothers or kooky older neighbors at this point.

How to Spend “Valentine’s Day”

With several of your closest movie star friends. In the same vein as Love, Actually and He’s Just Not That Into You, here’s the trailer to the latest romantic comedy ensemble Valentine’s Day, starring … well … a bunch of people you’ll recognize immediately:

OK, I realize I’m sounding a bit sarcastic about this, but I admit it. I’ll totally go see this and no doubt laugh, cry and sigh.


How to Get Hugh Grant

Just offer him a romantic comedy. Oh, Hugh. Please stop saying you’ll never do another one these again. Here’s the trailer to his latest, Did You Hear About the Morgans? in which he and Sarah Jessica Parker play a rich Manhattan married couple who have to go to Wyoming under a witness protection program. Listen for the quip about Sarah Palin … it’s PRICELESS:

Grant actually gave a very frank –and hilarious interview — to Entertainment Weekly in their Fall Movie Guide issue about why he thinks about quitting acting (and says it out loud):

I like everything except the acting. I’m wonderful in rehearsals, but I’ve never been very good when they actually switch the cameras on. In recent years, I’ve had really bad attacks where I totally freeze up. I thought, ‘Well, if I’m going to get stage fright, then I’m packing it in.’ It’s doing full-out comedy that makes me particularly nervous.

I can understand that, but enough is enough. You’ll still do it when the mood strikes, so just keep the aftermaths of your panic attacks quiet.

How to Watch: “Julie & Julia”

julieandjuliaStep 1: Don’t go see Julie & Julia, a delightful culinary treat, on an empty stomach – unless, of course, you are a masochist.

Step 2: Blend the ingredients together until you get a nice, fluffy texture. Julie & Julia is two stories,  both based on real-life women at a crossroads in their lives and interwoven together. First, there’s Julia Child (Meryl Streep), who in 1947, doesn’t know what to do with her life after her excitement as a government employee during WWII. Her adoring husband Paul (Stanley Tucci), a foreign diplomat, has been assigned to Paris, where Julia quickly realizes one thing: She loves to eat French cooking. Such is the catalyst for her to become the revolutionary cookbook author and TV host we know and love today. Then, jumping ahead a few decades to 2002, there’s Julie Powell (Amy Adams), a 30-year-old writer stuck in a depressing day job – and stuck on what she should write. She’s always admired Julia Child – and is a pretty darn good cook herself – so, with her husband Eric’s (Chris Messina) encouragement, she decides to make 524 recipes from Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 365 days and blog daily about her experiences. You know how it all turns out but it’s still fun to see the how the cooks got their start.

Step 3: Realize some flavors are stronger than others. Streep is once again, simply amazing as Child, punctuating her words and exuding all the positivity and joie de vivre the real chef was known for. When we are in Child’s universe, as she tries to write the French cookbook, the film really takes off. Unfortunately, things slow down a little when the film switches back to Julie’s world. Adams does a nice job, conveying Julie’s angst at turning 30 and searching for some purpose in life, but the julie&juliacharacter isn’t very sympathetic overall. Messina and Tucci are great, however, as these two pillars of strength, loving and supporting their wives in their arduous endeavors — especially Tucci. He and Streep have amazing chemistry and apparently accurately portray the Childs, who were very passionate with each other. Yes, that means they had a lot of sex.

Step 4: Do NOT skimp on the meal. Oh, the cooking in this film! Writer/director Nora Ephron knows all about romantic comedies (When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle), but she is also an accomplished cook in her own right. So making Julie & Julia must have just been a dream job. Ephron said she wanted the food in this movie to be like porn, and she hit it right on the spatula. It’s like rolling  around in a giant skillet of butter, which Child always said you could never have enough of. In fact, even more than leaving the theater hungry, I left wanting to COOK. I took my mother with me, who loves LOVES to cook, and I was asking her a bunch of questions. Is it really hard to poach an egg? De-bone a duck? Kill lobsters? She was full of hope we’d start a catering business together – not quite. I do want to poach an egg, though.

Level of difficulty in watching Julie & Julia: Easy as pie. A big Bavarian cream pie with a strawberry swirl.

How to Watch: “The Ugly Truth”

ugly-truth_lStep 1: Here’s the REAL ugly truth: The Ugly Truth is an uninspiring romantic-comedy rehash.

Step 2: Tell Katherine Heigl she needs new material. Oh sure, she’s still cute as a button, but this is really just one too many stupid rom-com set-ups, even for her. She plays Abby, the prudish producer of a boring Sacramento morning news show, who is also a complete control freak and can’t seem to snag the right guy. Enter Mike (Gerald Butler), an offensive macho Lothario who hosts a cable access show called The Ugly Truth, on which he tells it like it is: Men just want sex. Thanks for that. Mike then takes a spot on Abby’s show to boost the ratings – and typically oil meets water. Things begin to soften, however, when Mike decides to coach Abby into getting a date with her smokin’ doctor neighbor, and the two start to appreciate each other. You can see where this is going, right?

Step 3: Give Gerald Butler something better to do, too. When he’s rockin’ the shit in the hardcore gangster flick RocknRolla, or screaming “This. Is. SPARTA!” in 300, then he’s on top of his game. But the minute he gets cute and cuddly, as in P.S. I Love You or The Ugly Truth, it all goes down the tubes for him. I have a solution: Stop doing sappy romantic crap, Gerry.

Step 4: Don’t give up on the genre, though. Sometimes a mediocre story is made better by the talent, say in the other more recent rom-com The Proposal. And sometimes the story surprises you with a few twists and turns, as in my favorite rom-com Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Unfortunately, none of those things exist in Ugly Truth. But I’m sure many people will enjoy the film anyway, to see Abby and Mike spar and make cute, or especially to see Abby have an unexpected orgasm in the middle of a business dinner because she’s wearing vibrating underwear by mistake. Oh, that’s so RICH.

Level of difficulty in watching The Ugly Truth: Moderately ho-hum. Maybe I’m just jaded when it comes to a worthwhile romantic comedy.