Tuesday, October 23, 2007

When Harry Met Sally it was Love Actually. Then she became Sleepless in Seattle until Bridget Jones's Diary turned her into Something New

Whew! It's amazing to me how those damn movie titles just fit so perfectly together.. it's almost as if they were all just trite phrases strung together?
So the past weekend got me thinking about that much maligned genre of film known as romantic comedies, aka chick flicks. We all know them and many of us shell out our hard-earned cash to watch these frequently formulaic 90-minutes of fluff at our local multiplex or on our personal television sets (Christina, I'm looking at you). We tend to think of them as harmless. Light. A great alternative to those "serious" movies, that more often than not tend to feature male characters in leading roles and are likewise marketed to men. But what are we buying into when we buy our ticket to "In the Land of Women Something's Gotta Give because While You Were Sleeping she gave him a French Kiss and now everyone is singing Sweet Home Alabama?"
Now, I will admit to owning and enjoying a few of these so-called romantic comedies. It's true - they are escapist and fun and often feature fabulous outfits. Though, I do often wonder what impact they have on our "real" lives and relationships and the fantasies that they perpetuate.
For example, a certain gentleman caller gave me flowers on our first date this weekend. They were carnations. Would I have wrinkled my nose at them just the same if they hadn't become a part of dating mythology thanks to the romantic comedies of the world?
Floral misgivings aside - back to those clothes. Has anyone noticed that regardless of what job a woman in a romantic comedy holds, she always has fantastic clothes?! With the possible exceptions of Anne Hathaway for the first part of "The Devil Wears Prada" and Julia Roberts for the first part of "Pretty Woman," NO ONE in a chick flick cruises the clearance racks at Old Navy or waits until all the big sales at the department stores. And forget complusively collecting those 20% coupons at Bed Bath and Beyond, that is something only chicks in the "real" world have to struggle with, all the while striving for the perfect home and clothing collection since that's how the movies portray us.
Of a far more nefarious nature is the subgenre of chick flicks where our plucky, beautiful and lovelorn heroine wrests her man from the altar at the last minute, saving him from the wrong marriage and bringing herself the object of her desire. For examples, see "The Wedding Planner" and "The Sweetest Thing." I think these give women the worst illusions about the realities of dating, marriage and love because in real life - when does that ever happen? Kudos to "My Best Friend's Wedding" for denying Julia Roberts's character her man. Besides, who needs a roaming sports reporter when you can have a fabulous gay boyfriend like Rupert Everett?
This is hardly an anti-chick flick manifesto and I don't expect to affect ticket revenues or DVD sales with my above rant, but I do want to raise a little hell. Think about the messages behind the movies. What does it say when a whole rash of movies appear with dead paramours (Just Like Heaven, Catch and Release)? Or when our pets start to claim film titles (Must Love Dogs, The Year of the Dog)? Just a little something to think about.


Josh said...

On a related note, I get a huge kick out of reading the columns in Cosmo about what guys really think. I'm sure they're about as accurate as a column in Maxim about what girls really think.

SaraK said...

a certain gentleman caller gave me flowers on our first date this weekend. They were carnations.

Hey, Carrie Bradshaw loves getting carnations! :)

NO ONE in a chick flick cruises the clearance racks at Old Navy

All TV & movie characters are like this (not just chick flicks). I wonder why TJ Maxx doesn't do product placement in movies...

Not that I disagree...great post.
I always find myself reminding my friends that our lives are not a romantic comedy. Alas, I am too level headed to even fantasize that my life could ever be like that :)