Sunday, February 03, 2008

Where have all the RomComs gone?

My favorite movie genre is Romantic Comedy -- favorite TV and literature genre too. The first date my wife and I went on was to see the movie "Benny and Joon," and I told her then that there were only three types of movies I watched -- romances, comedies and romantic comedies. (Trying to make it sound like I was more well-rounded than I actually was.)
It's been a while since I've seen a really good one though. I guess the last one that really got to me was "Just Like Heaven." And that was probably mainly due to the fact that Reese Witherspoon -- the finest actress of her generation -- was in it and she's so good she lifted her co-star Mark Ruffalo and the script up to her level. That's probably part of the reason there aren't more really good RomComs these days. With the exception of Reese, we don't have any actresses good enough to follow in the footsteps of Katherine Hepburn, Myrna (no kin) Loy and Claudette Colbert, and no actors worthy to wear the crown borne by William Powell, Cary Grant and Spencer Tracy.
There are other reasons too. And I think A.O. Scott sums it up pretty well in this article from the New York Times.
I have to quote this one paragraph, but you should really go and read the whole article.

"(T)he movies made under the old taboos of the Production Code are far more sophisticated, and far less timid, than what we see today. The standard PG-13 romantic comedy nowadays treads so delicately in fear of giving offense to someone somewhere that it wonders into blandness and boredom. Its naughty R-rated sibling, meanwhile, will frequently wallow in coarseness at the expense of subtlety or wit, mistaking grossness for honesty."

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