Friday, May 06, 2011

Rob's RomComs

I've expanded my movie-watching tastes a bit lately, in that I will occasionally watch something other than a romantic comedy. But it's still by far my favorite genre. I like the envelope-pushing boundary-breaking ones as much as I like the slick by-the-numbers Hollywood pix -- unless Kate Hudson is in it, can't stand her. I have no problem with cliches if they're done with competency and respect. Perfect recent example: "The Switch" It's obvious from the second scene (if not from the poster and the title of the film) exactly where how this is going to end, but Jason Bateman and Jennifer Aniston and a great supporting cast (Jeff Goldblum is hilarious as the wacky friend who gives dubious advice) just reel me in. (BTW, there are quite a few actresses I like, some I will go see anything they are in, but I haven't had a favorite actor since William Powell (Google him, you young whippersnappers) but I have to say everything I've seen with Jason Bateman in it was better because he was in it.)
Yesterday I watched "Heartbreakers" and I loved this French film, best romcom I've seen in a while. Two things I really like about foreign films (three, if you can't the fact that the DVD will always have subtitles so deafies like me can follow the action, something not always true of American motion pictures -- why do some DVDs have Spanish and Portugese subtitles but not English. The second thing I'm going to do when I become President is make it a law that all movies must be subtitled for the deaf and hearing-impaired) : One, is that most of the time I don't recognize the actors (although I've seen enough French movies that now I do recognize some of l'acteurs) so I don't have the distraction of trying to follow a movie while wondering why nobody points out to the lead character "You know you look just like Robin Williams" or Brad Pitt or (God help us) Kate Hudson. You have to be a pretty good actor to make me forget I've seen you in a dozen or so other films and read about you in People magazine. Two, the actors look like real people. One problem I have with American films and TV (even my favorite show "Bones") is that you have all these cops and lawyers and doctors and people not know for their good looks all looking drop dead gorgeous. Vanessa Paradis, the star of "Heartbreakers" has a humongous gap between her two front teeth and a flat chest, two "flaws" that would have to be "fixed" before she could even get a walk-on role in Hollywood, but she's absolutely stunning (and Johnny Depp evidently agrees, she's his baby mama) and the movie gains verisimilitude because she does look like a real person and and not a botoxed, siliconed Tinseltown cyborg. Same for the male lead Romain Duris, who is handsome but not nearly as studly as he thinks. Instead of playing his part broadly for laughs every second he brings some nuance. I didn't even recognize him as the titular character in "Moliere" until the movie was over. (He was great in that one too, by the way.)
Not that this one wasn't predictable too. Alex and his sister and brother-in-law make their living by breaking up romances. Say you don't like the guy your daughter's about to marry, whip out your checkbook and call the heartbreaker team.
Since Alex is in debt to a mobster he and his team take a case that violates one of their tenets -- never try to break up a happy relationship, only one where one of the partners is unhappy, although maybe not aware of that fact yet. Juliette is in love with her handsome, rich, generous fiancee and she takes an instant dislike (of course) to Alex, who pretends to be her bodyguard. Gradually he comes to care for her -- not just to love her, that's too easy, but to like her and to want to not do anything that could spoil her chance at happiness -- and so even though he knows it means he won't get paid -- and will take one hell of an ass-cutting from the loanshark's goon -- he pulls back just before he succeeds in seducing her, which is when we realize that she has feelings for him too.
I won't say any more about how it gets to where you know it's going, other than to say that I am a connouiseur of those scenes where the guy and the girl realize where they belong and run from an airport or their own wedding back to the girl or guy that seemed so inappropriate 90 minutes ago, and this movie contains my new favorite of said scenes.
I guess I'll use a scale of one to ten stars on my movie review scale, and I have to give Heartbreakers a 10. I wouldn't change a thing. See it now, because Universal Pictures and Working Title have reportedly snapped up English remake rights to "Heartbreakers" and you know they'll mess it up, probably cast Jim Carrey or Adam Sandler to bozo it up.

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