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We Can’t Be in Love Like the Movies…

June 6, 2012

I don’t think many people would classify me as a “romantic”. In fact, I wouldn’t even classify myself as such given the fact that I’m incredibly cynical and astronomically self-conscious when it comes to any sort of potentially romantic situation. Despite all of this, I still seem to find the time and interest to watch romantic comedies and romantic dramas. I don’t always enjoy these types of movies (actually, I usually end up wanting to vomit after most), but there are a select few that I legitimately enjoy for one reason or another. Now, I’m no expert on the matter, and sometimes I tend to have the emotional range of a teaspoon, but today I’d like to discuss a few Romance/Rom-Com films and why I think they are either adorable or incredibly stupid… And let’s add some quotes for good measure.

Movie 1 – You’ve Got Mail

Synopsis: Back in the days when AOL was still relevant, this charming film about small-business children’s bookstore owner Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) and big-time corporate Fox Books chain owner Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) presents the terribly romantic idea that a person you might see every day of the week but never really notice could be the love of your life. The two meet in an online chat room (remember those?) for over 30s in New York, immediately hit it off, and continue to correspond each day through email, finding themselves become more and more attached to the phrase “you’ve got mail,” despite already having a significant other. Little do these characters know that they traverse the same streets every morning to get to work and that they both happen to be “in the book business.” What will happen when Kathleen’s small children’s book store, The Shop Around the Corner, starts losing business to the giant Fox Books chain store that’s opening in the same neighborhood? And will Joe ever be able to convince Kathleen that he’s not the corporate jackass that she originally thinks he is?

Spoiler Alert?

Analysis: I don’t remember how old I was when I first saw You’ve Got Mail (it came out in 1998, so I was at least 8 years old), but I know I was relatively young. As you may have picked up from my tone in the synopsis (or maybe not – tone can be tricky sometimes), I absolutely adore this movie. It comes on television a lot (I think usually on Bravo), and I always find myself watching it. The story is a little hokey I suppose, but I enjoy the characters and the way they develop. I find it extremely and emotionally satisfying the way Kathleen starts off hating Joe (really, how can you hate Tom Hanks?), but slowly begins to change her point of view about him. It’s one of the few romantic comedies that I find myself quoting (and people usually don’t get the reference – what else is new?). The characters are pretty standard for a Rom-Com – quirky with an unusual ability to spit out witticisms on a whim – but Tom and Meg make them seem incredibly relatable. And the film is lacking in those incredibly stupid scenes where some sort of hijinks occurs in order to squeeze out a few laughs (e.g. someone somehow getting stranded somewhere without their clothes, some furry animal attacking the main male character’s face, breaking something seemingly important and going through all sorts of trouble to get it fixed or hide it, etc.). And did I mention Dave Chappelle is in it?

Quotes: “The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. So people who don’t know what the hell they’re doing or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self: Tall. Decaf. Cappuccino.” – Joe Fox

“’Joe’? ‘Just call me Joe’? As if you were one of those stupid 22-year old girls with no last name? ‘Hi, I’m Kimberly!’ ‘Hi, I’m Janice!’ Don’t they know you’re supposed to have a last name? It’s like they’re an entire generation of cocktail waitresses.” – Kathleen Kelly

“Kevin, this is possibly the most adorable creature I’ve ever been in contact with, and if she turns out to be as good looking as a mailbox… I would be crazy enough to turn my life upside down and marry her.” – Joe Fox

Movie 2 – The Notebook

Synopsis: One of those Nicholas Sparks films where boy (Ryan Gosling) meets girl (Rachel McAdams). Girl’s parents are stuck up assholes and don’t approve of boy (again let me state that this boy is RYAN MCDREAMY-FACE GOSLING), but they end up falling in love anyway. Then, like, the girl goes off somewhere, and the mom keeps the boys letters, so the girl thinks the boy forgot about her, and then the girl falls in love with a much more impressive man who has money and status and stuff, but still finds herself thinking about boy, and blah blah blah, something about Alzheimer’s.

Analysis: It was way late in the game when I finally watched The Notebook two years ago. It started coming on ABC Family for some reason, so I thought, “What the hell? Let’s see what all the hubbub is about.” So I watched the movie… What a complete load of B-S and a waste of 123 minutes. Why were people crying during this movie? Because Rachel McAdams’s character is a fickle little bitch? What is the appeal of this love story? Honestly, I was hoping girl would go back to big fancy city man with the money. She loved him after all. What would life with boy given her? Since this love story is basically a flashback of a story the boy is telling the girl once their old and married with kids and stuff, we learn that she gets all that, but how is this young little immature knit-whit supposed to know that?  And nobody was surprised to find out that the old lady was actually her and the man was telling their story. The romance isn’t even that clever or interesting. It’s like listening to that Taylor Swift song where she talks about short-skirts and sneakers, except reverse the genders and make it 41x longer. Ugh, let me just go ahead and give you that quote everyone knows:

Best part of the whole movie.

Quote: “So it’s not gonna be easy. It’s gonna be really hard. We’re gonna have to work at this every day, but I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you, forever, you and me, every day. Will you do something for me, please? Just picture your life for me? 30 years from now, 40 years from now? What’s it look like? If it’s with him, go. Go! I lost you once, I think I can do it again. If I thought that’s what you really wanted. But don’t you take the easy way out.” – Noah

(I actually don’t mind this part of the movie because he just ends up yelling at her and making her cry. Stupid bitty.)

Movie 3 – Emma/Pride & Prejudice/Sense & Sensibility

Synopsis: I’ve clumped these films together because they’re basically the same type of movie; Jane Austen-based films occurring during the Georgian Era focusing on societal issues, specifically through the point of view of a strong female lead. If you want an actual plot summary for each… well, just go to Google.

Analysis: I’m not entirely sure why, but there is something incredibly appealing to me about these films. Basically acting as representations of the Georgian society’s gentry class’s desire to create advantageous unions between a family with only daughters (thus giving the family the inability to pass on any sort of wealth once the patron has passed as prescribed by law) and the heirs to some wealthy houses, these movies attempt to bring love into the picture, making them completely unrealistic (Emma might be the exception since her marriage is actually quite fitting with her and her eventual husband’s status). I guess it’s the pretty dresses and the coats with tails that make me love these movies so much.

Life was simpler then…

I think every girl in the world swoons over Mr. Darcy, (and who’d blame them with 10,000 a year!), but I think there’s something about the language, the formality of social interactions, the chivalrous nature of society that I find entertaining. I mean, I want to go to a ball in a big English manor house and dance around the marble floors with a man whose income could guarantee I’d live a more-than-comfortable life if I am able to win him over. With Elizabeth and Darcy, there’s the whole “I hated you, but now I realize I love you” thing. With Elinor and Edward, it’s the “you’re secretly engaged to a knit-whit, but I love you” thing. And Emma and Knightly have the whole “We’re best friends, and I just realized that I love you” thing. Is it strange to find these things appealing? No, because I think everyone can at least appreciate that last one. Isn’t your significant other supposed to be your best friend anyway? I know that’s a really hackneyed storyline for a film, but it doesn’t make it any less appealing, especially when there are carriages, parasols, and the English countryside involved. If given a time machine, I’d have a hard time keeping myself from traveling back to such an era. My 8th grade history teacher, Mr. Lester, gave me and the other girls in my class this advice: if we ever gain the ability to travel through time, never go backwards. You will be stripped of most (if not all) of the rights to which you have grown accustomed. The same goes for minorities (basically anyone who isn’t white, male, and Protestant). The future will most likely involve more opportunities for your sex/race. Plus there were a lot of shifty health related issues back in the day. But I digress….

A more awesome version of Pride and Prejudice.

Quotes: “I do not wish to call you my friend, because I hoped to call you something infinitely more dear… I rode through the rain! I’d – I’d ride through worse than that if I could just hear your voice telling me that I might, at least, have some chance to win you.” – Mr. Knightley

Did I just agree to dance with Mr. Darcy?” – Elizabeth

“I daresay you will find him to be very amiable.” – Charlotte

That would be most inconvenient since I have sworn to loathe him for all eternity.” – Elizabeth

“What do you know of my heart? What do you know of anything but your own suffering? For weeks, Marianne, I’ve had this pressing on me without being at liberty to speak of it to a single creature. It was forced on my by the very person whose prior claims ruined all my hope. I have endured her exultations again and again whilst knowing myself to be divided from Edward forever. Believe me, Marianne, had I not been bound to silence I could have provided proof enough of a broken heart, even for you.” – Elinor

(Side Note: I don’t actually like Jane Austen books. I’ve tried to read the three mentioned above, and I just can’t make it all the way through them. I enjoy the movies more than the books. That’s probably the only time you will ever hear me say that.)

Movie 4 – Say Anything…

Synopsis: Underachiever Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) finds himself romantically drawn toward overachieving Diane Court (Ione Skye). Diane, who is a little bit socially inept but very intelligent and hard-working, is surprised to find herself equally drawn to Lloyd. Having just graduated from high school, Diane is offered a fellowship to study abroad in England. Lloyd continues to woo her during the summer before she leaves, but her father turns out to be a bit of a problem. He disapproves of Lloyd and encourages Diane to break up with him, thinking she could do much better. Diane’s father also falls under the investigation of the IRS because of some sort of tax stuff concerning the nursing home he owns (yup, he owns a nursing home…). Diane struggles between the wishes and convictions of her father and her growing romantic interest toward the absolutely adorable Lloyd. What will Diane decide to do?

Analysis: So I’ve seen this movie a few times, and no matter how many times I watch it, I just can’t seem to grow to love it. Everyone tells me that it’s one of the most romantic movies ever, and it’s so great. Honestly, it just bores me. The only thing I like about this movie is John Cusack, because duh! I’ll admit that the story is pretty endearing: a girl has a difficult decision to make regarding her future, whether it’s staying by her father’s side during his times of trouble or getting to finally celebrate youth and love before she has to leave in the fall. I’ve never been in this situation, but the way these difficult situations are portrayed in the movie seem pretty legitimate to me. This is one of those movies that I wish I liked (sometimes I even say I do like it if it comes up in conversation), but I really just can’t get into it. It’s slow-moving and not that satisfying. Despite all of this, I still wish a young John Cusack would stand outside my house with a boom box lifted over his head playing Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes”.

It’s my belief that “In Your Eyes” is about a guy who falls in love with a girl who has laser vision.

Quote: “She’s gone. She gave me a pen. I gave her my heart, she gave me a pen.” – Lloyd Dobler

Movie 5 – Love Actually

Synopsis: This is a movie starring all of your favorite British actors and actresses (plus Laura Linney), recounting their tales of love found and love lost. There are way too many stories to go through, and I’m incredibly lazy, so just go watch the movie yourself if you haven’t already seen it.

Analysis: I’m not sure I’ve ever spoken with someone who has seen Love Actually and didn’t enjoy it. It’s another movie (like You’ve Got Mail) that I can watch countless times and never get sick of (probably because there’s so much going on). Even though each person has their own story to tell, all the stories are somehow connected with each other, allowing you to enter this little microcosm and connect with each relationship. Some of the stories are very upsetting: cheating spouses, recently passed spouses, falling in love with your best mate’s fiancé/wife, being unable to commit to any romantic relationship because of the constant attention required from a disabled family member. Then there are the stories that are adorable: a little boy falls in love with his classmate from America, a man learns Portuguese in order to finally understand the woman he loves (and she in turn learns English for him), the Prime Minister falls in love with his “chubby” secretary (actually, that romance is probably my least favorite), a guy goes to America and gets lots of ass because of his plucky British accent (well there’s your synopsis I guess). It shows both the ups and downs that come with love, whether it’s platonic or romantic. It’s got those quirky characters every romantic comedy has (at one point Hugh Grant dances around what I can only assume is Number 10 Downing Street), but their quirks aren’t really any different than a normal person’s (I would definitely dance around Number 10 if given the chance). It’s encouraging, even for the tragic tales, because even if you’ve loved and lost, there is always someone there who still loves you. There is always a support system of family and friends around to help you through the tough times. Just thinking about the very end of the movie puts a smile of my face.

If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.

Quote: “Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion… love actually is all around.” – David (Prime Minister)

Movie 6 – Pretty In Pink

Synopsis: Andie Walsh (Molly Ringwald) has a big crush on popular dude Blane McDonough (Andrew McCarthy). When they start dating, they receive all sorts of pressure from their respective social groups. Blane is a “richie” and has a douche bag friend named Steff (James “Dr. Daniel Jackson” Spader) who constantly points out that Andie doesn’t belong in their circle because she lives with her unemployed dad and works at a record store and is definitely way too New Wave for their world of posh sport coats and button down oxfords. Andie’s best friend Duckie (Jon Cryer) is in love with her, but always plays it out as a joke for some reason and wears hip outlandishly patterned shirts and those circular-framed John Lennon sunglasses. Yadda, yadda, yadda, stereotypes, and jealousy, and teen angst, and 80’s hair. Eventually, Blane and Andie end up making out in the parking lot of the school.

Analysis: I hope disliking Pretty In Pink isn’t a crime against humanity (as some people make it seem to be), because there isn’t really much of anything I like about this movie. It’s your typical teenage drama where cliques and societal norms are the antagonists. In the end, everyone learns a little something about themselves and the world, and even the sympathetic supporting character gets a hopeful ending. Maybe it’s just something about 80’s romance-genre movies that I don’t like. I will admit that Pretty In Pink is a lot better than some of the teen romance films coming out today. All of those seem to be produced by Disney and usually involve singing and dancing. At least Pretty In Pink depicts its included societal issues in a serious way.

Really? How could Molly resist that fine piece of meat?

Quote: “You said you couldn’t be with someone who didn’t believe in you. Well I believed in you. I just didn’t believe in me. I love you… always.” – Blane McDonough (Now let’s go make out.)

Those are the only movies I’m going to go into in this post, but just in case you wanted to know more of my likes and dislikes, here is a list of some more movies:

Winners:  Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Harold and Maude, Casablanca, When Harry Met Sally, (regrettably) Ever After, (why not) Gone With the Wind, (sometimes) Titanic (but expect me to enhance the film with my personal witty remarks), The Princess Bride, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, My Fair Lady (though I like to think this less romance and more mutual fondness), (500) Days of Summer, While You Were Sleeping, My Best Friend’s Wedding, There’s Something About Mary, Cruel Intentions (you know you love it too), Never Been Kissed (guilty pleasure), The Wedding Singer, Clueless, 10 Things I Hate About You, and anything else involving Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.

Losers: Dirty Dancing, Moulin Rouge, Shakespeare In Love, Jerry McGuire, Romeo + Juliet, Pretty Woman, Grease, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Failure to Launch, He’s Not That Into You, Love And Other Drugs, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Sleepless in Seattle, A Walk to Remember, Memoire’s of a Geisha (except the cinematography and score are absolutely breathtaking), Tristan and Isolde, Sex and the City: The Movie, and anything else stupid.

I’m not saying that I have the best taste in movies, and I’m not saying that just because I think a movie isn’t very good means that everyone else has to think so too. Some of the movies I’ve listed under “Losers” are highly acclaimed films, while some of the movies under “Winners” aren’t really anything to brag about. I won’t make any sort of snap judgment about you if you like one of the movies I don’t (the only thing that gets a snap judgment from me is if you like Twilight) or hold it against you. Also, a lot of winners and losers are absent from the list because I just couldn’t think of them (I Googled “romance movies” and went through the ones that the sites gave me). I also haven’t seen a lot of romance movies, as it isn’t really my first genre of choice (that would be Sci-Fi/Fantasy), and I didn’t want to present any sort of judgment on well-known films that I just haven’t watched yet (again, unless it’s Twilight – I haven’t seen any of those movies, and I have no problem judging them). So what’s your favorite romance?

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