|Note the lean
It may be surprising to you that many of my favourite films are could often conceivably be categorised as members of the romance or rom-com genres. Lost in Translation is an all time favourite, the ending sucker punching me every time (and many times at this point). I've mentioned Quiet City on this blog already, another one I'm very fond of. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - a consistent presence in my personal and deeply irrelevant Top Three for many years - is a rom-com by all accounts, albeit one which fucks with the structure something fierce. We have Before Sunset / Sunrise, Jerry Maguire, Garden State, The Apartment, Manhattan (most vintage Woody Allen at that) and countless others. Romance, in short, is often the stuff of great cinema. Then why, pray tell, is so much crap churned out?
Economics, distressingly. Just Go With It - the latest in Jennifer 'Cinematic War Criminal' Aniston's filmography of increasingly bland, formulaic romances - earned 140 million dollars. Not that significant compared to the $80,000,000 budget, but still a chunk of change. I haven't seen Just Go With It, but having worked in a video shop up until late last year, I was subjected to a wide variety of this sort of horrid stuff in the course of the job: The Ugly Truth (ugly stuff indeed), PS I Love You, Valentine's Day, He's Just Not That Into You etc... I'm sure they all made a significant dent in the box office.
|More damning evidence of poster lean
|Don't think I need to comment on this
L. O. L.
It is woeful stuff, and faces a serious identity crisis: who the hell is this film aimed at? The humour is the kind of stuff only twelve year olds (and particularly immature twelve year olds at that) find amusing, or at least should be the only people who find it funny. The romance is non-existent - these characters hate each other with such vitriol their inevitable union is frankly ludicrous and depressing.
These two are far from alone. The list of bad rom-coms is far far longer than the list of good ones. The Jerry Maguires and - so I've heard, haven't seen it myself - Definitely Maybes of this world are rarities: traditional rom-coms that have mainstream appeal and are actually good to boot. Instead, audiences are subjected to increasingly dreadful stuff. Judd Apatow and co., questionable claims of misogyny aside, initially seemed to be putting things on the right track with the likes of 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up, but even the Apatow stuff already seems somewhat stale.
Audiences, frankly, deserve better. This is coming from an audience member. People buy into this stuff, clearly. But - if you are one of those people - I assure you there is much, much better out there. There are genuinely warm and funny films out there where you root for the main characters to get together. Hollywood would like to tell you Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler belong together just because they're Aniston and Butler. It's the genre of wish fulfillment, the beautiful and rich living happily ever after. Asking questions of why they live happily ever after is strictly forbidden. It doesn't have to be that way, and it isn't always that way. There are so many great romances out there, one just needs to look beyond the posters of leaning McConaugheys.
Money speaks, sadly, and all this is unlikely to change anytime soon. But the fact that cinematic romance is far from dead despite the darndest efforts of the big studios is something to quietly cheer. You may get funny looks for yelling "Death to Poster Lean!" in cinema lobbys, but at least your intentions will be admirable.
|Damn you, lean!