Monday, May 31, 2010
Another sequel that got phoned in. Just because there's a fan base that enjoyed the first film doesn't mean the creators/actors/writers etc. can't give it their all. The plot is paper thin. The so-called character arc of Tony Stark is cliched and boring. The climax at the end between the actual hero and bad guy falls short. Scarlett Johansson is in way over her head to be playing a superhero. Her character of Black Widow is underused but also NOT needed and just serves as filler. I went in with low expectations and came out with even lower satisfaction.
What's happened to the RomCom is that there is no COMEDY.
How can a genre that has two genres in it be any good if the one part of the pair is lacking? Some could say, "well then it's just a romance" but a romance is an entirely different beast (Falling in Love, The Notebook). A Romantic Comedy has to balance those two tones and for some reason the comedy tends to always fall flat. And usually the comedy is trite, not organic to the story or the characters. One lingers/zingers thrown in for good measure that a character would NOT naturally say is the lazy way out. This lack of comedy tends to really be an issue for the female driven romantic comedy, and not so much for the ones starring Seth Rogen or Ben Stiller etc. It's as if women can't be funny, truly funny, and smart at the same time. Has the Women's Movement made us this dull and silly? Why can't female characters be funny and complex? Why can't these characters have edge? Sarcasm? We're either ditzy (Jessica Simpson in Blonde Ambition) or complete bitches (Sandra Bullock in The Proposal) where's the nuances that make a woman a woman? Where's the complexity? (post is interrupted. I shall return...)
I am back...
I enjoy slapstick. I really do. I think that's why I love Bridget Jones so much. She's deeply flawed, but genuine and smart in her own way. But not only is she witty and has dialogue that rings true, she also gets into physical comedy, which just turns this film up a notch. I think this film should be viewed by anyone who wants to write a romantic comedy, along with 40 Year old Virgin. Both films create comical characters with pitch perfect dialogue and visual action full of funny moments.
In male driven Romantic Comedies, there is a lot more physical humor, usually along the gross out/bodily function variety. For some reason, those films are allowed to go to that extreme. It seems to just not work for female driven ones (The Sweetest Thing) and I have to really ask myself why? Is it because we hold "women" to a higher standard? Is slapstick the lowest common denominator and better suited for male driven romcoms? Jack Black gets to be all physical in Shallow Hal as does Ben Stiller in Along Came Polly, and Seth Rogen in Knocked Up, while the female love interests are all relocated to straight (wo)man status. The calm to their storm. Reacting to these zany guys instead of taking action and being funny themselves. And being "quirky" isn't funny, and neither is owning a ferret.
Sometimes, what is funny on the page doesn't translate to the screen and vice versa. I've written romantic comedies where I think it looks funny on the page, but if someone reads it out loud it falls flat. Trying to "write" funny, in my experience, sometimes just makes it come out dull and "writerly" and by "writerly" I mean, it sounds like (me) the writer is "trying" to be funny instead of letting the character exist as they are and allowing for the breathing room so that they can BE funny.
As most of us know, comedy is subjective and is difficult to write or even watch without giving or having an opinion on it. Sometimes when the comedy in a romcom falls flat it's due to too many "cooks in the kitchen" giving their opinions on what is and isn't funny that before you know it, what's left for us to devour onscreen, is a mishmash of several different perspectives and writing styles. thus, diluting what was or is or once upon a time was funny.
I keep hoping that when I go to a RomCom that it'll be funny. That I'll laugh so hard my tummy will hurt, or tears will stream down my face and that by the end of the film, I'm in love with the romance. This doesn't happen often. In fact, rarely ever. For now, I judge RomComs by how many Laugh out Loud moments they give me. If I laugh 4 to 5 times then I consider the film to have done its job and I'm somewhat satisfied. Going in with no to low expectations is always a good thing. But am I selling the genre short? Shouldn't I be demanding more comedy in my Romantic Comedy? And should I not rest until I get it again? I say again because Bridget Jones gave that to me (its sequel did not!! Grrrrr. Waste of comedy potential gold, but I confess I still own the movie because I love the character so much). Maybe I should get off this site and get back to my Movie Magic and start the romantic comedy of the new generation :) Then again, I might just curl up on my couch and pop in While You Were Sleeping and eat chocolate. Who needs romance and comedy when I have cocoa in my belly?
Up Next...What Happened to the Romantic Comedy? The Career Cliché.
Sex & The City lacks sex and the freaking city. A horrible film that is so badly written that my head actually hurt from hearing the dialogue. Where is the plot? Where is the structure? Where are the character arcs? It's so watered down that it barely has any resemblance to the HBO show, which was edgy and fresh. This version is just sad and dumbed down. And someone needs to tell the ladies that at a certain age, dark eyeshadows are WRONG! (I'm looking at you Horseface Parker)
I thought maybe I'd enjoy some Fashion porn, but most of the clothes were ridiculous. What man in their right mind would be at all attracted to what some of the ladies are wearing? No straight man or any self-respecting man is my guess. Samantha Jones actually wears a red jacket with huge shoulder pads marked with SPIKES! Yes! Spikes. It looks like a cross between Michael Jackson's thriller jacket and what Tina Turner wore in Mad Max beyond Thunderdome.
I am a fan of the show. I loved it. I still do. The first movie was fun and dark, but at least it had its heart in the right place. This sequel is pompous and arrogant on the part of the filmmakers who didn't even try to create a film that is witty and rewarding towards its core audience. Then again who is the core audience? The people who first watched the show on HBO or the people who watched the watered down PG version on TBS? And the wink wink nudging between the actors was vomit inducing. They'd deliver a line and smile and laugh as if they said something so hysterical that we, as the audience, couldn't possibly comprehend. Throwing us a bone is not the way to treat intelligent moviegoers.
There's a scene in the film where the ladies sing karaoke at a bar in Abu Dhabi. A bar filled with half-dressed Belly Dancers. They get up to sing "I am woman". Are you freaking kidding me??? "I am FUCKING woman?" Wow! What a great way to show us how progressive you are and how they are so backwards. Where's the subtlety? Where's the subtext? I am a moviegoer that doesn't need to be spoon fed an agenda. And thanks to Miranda's constant exposition on the rules and regulations of the Middle East. She was our own walking wikipedia page. Is the audience that dumb that we don't know shit about other cultures? I guess some people in the audience are.
And what is with Act One? A wedding? A gay wedding? With freaking Liza Minelli officiating and then dancing? I kept waiting for her to keel right over in her sequined dress. It's not campy. It's not fun. It was eye-rolling and head shakingly trite. Everyone knows that when one girlfriend has a best gay and her best gal pal has her own best gay, then that means those two gays must end up together! Even if they HAVE nothing in common. No chemistry. NOTHING. Marrying off Anthony and Stanford is a shallow and insulting move on the writer's part. Michael Patrick King, as a gay man, you should be ashamed at the cliché.
I was disappointed by SATC2, and I went in with low expectations because I just wanted to be entertained and return to characters I loved. I missed the 'sex' and the 'city' part. I wanted New York City! I wanted SEX (and not just Samantha's) I wished they had explored the motherhood guilt more and the idea of "be careful what you wish for?" and the whole Aidan thing felt off, I think maybe because it too wasn't explored. For such a long movie not much happened. And I wasn't a fan of how they judged or portrayed the Middle East. It felt off to me. Like it was the wrong movie or something. If you're going to explore such deep issues as the treatment of women in certain parts of the world then I say go for it. Write about it with humor and wit and respect. The plot was thin for my liking and some of the one liners felt like they were trying too hard. Also, I think they made the movie for themselves rather than for the fans. At least this one fan.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
I don't even know where to start. (post is interrupted, I shall return...Wow! That was a long interruption. Am lazy when it comes to my own thoughts and opinions and writing them down, hopefully that doesn't mean others are lazy in reading them ;))
I've been pondering this post for a while. The Romantic Comedy genre is my favourite, but also the one I am most harsh against. It comes from such glorious beginnings (some like it hot, it happened one night) to a lot of crap (Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Rumor has it). Somewhere along the way, the genre has lost its heart for the most part. It's now riddled with one dimensional characters (usually the female), lacks witty retorts, is infested with cliché upon cliché (I have nothing against clichés because when clichés are written with love and wit and savoir faire they become classic and memorable), overused careers (why do the characters always have to work at an AD agency or at a Magazine, or be a fashion designer?), the list of drawn out and hacked out plot devices have taken this once high and mighty genre into the gutter of scorn and ridicule. And that's just my introduction.
What Happened to the Romantic Comedy? PART 1
There are a number of actors I hold responsible:
Matthew McCaughnaney (and I don't freaking care to look up the proper spelling of his name because he deserves to be misspelled)
Jennifer Aniston (acting with the hair is NOT acting. Grow a freaking mullet and maybe I'll take you seriously)
Luke Wilson (once a romantic comedy actor with potential who is now starring in straight to dvd films with Jessica Simpson!)
Kate Hudson (you come from acting royalty. Ask Goldie for HELP asap on how to ACT in a romcom, but better yet how to choose the right romcom, Overboard is an 80's classic. Watch it. Study it. Live it.)
Ashton Kutcher (he's too pretty and too self-involved with his "empire")
Katherine Heigl(i couldn't stand you as a teen actor in my father the hero then I loved you on Grey's Anatomy (until the writing turned to shit) and then you showed up in the insultingly bad 27 Dresses)
Sarah Jessica Parker (you've gone from Carrie to Scary as the big screen is not kind to you)
Those actors are just a few of the many who sully the good name of the genre. Well, I mean it doesn't have a good name now, but that's beside the point.
RomComs starring the above mentioned actors (and others I haven't bothered with) are so insulting towards the audience that I have a physical reaction towards them. Whenever I hear a new romcom is coming out with any of these actors I cringe, knowing full well it'll suck. And when a film stars a combo deal, I run! An example is the upcoming film, The Killers, starring Kutcher and Heigl. Ugh! Do I cringe because I am a spinster and not the soccer mom crowd that these kind of movies are apparently geared towards? Are these one note actors the only source of talent left for this genre? I'm a snob and I want the likes of Cate Blanchett and Tilda Swinton to recreate this genre. I would add Kate Winslet but she made the rather drab Holiday, which I forgive only because she rocks.
RomComs rely heavily on casting nowadays. Chemistry is half the battle, which I think has created the mentality for lazy writing and character development. Who cares what the protagonist learns or if she's one dimensional! Just put Cameron Diaz in the lead and the audience will follow. Who cares if the male is rather drab and boring, get Matthew to take off his shirt in a few scenes and voila! Women will moist at the very thought! But I want to get weak in the knees with a story that captures human nature between the sexes. It really is a battle out there and I'm sick of watching lightweights act with their pecks and hair.
One of the most perfectly casted Romantic Comedies in the last decade was Bridget Jones' Diary. When I first heard Renee Zelwegger was going to play Bridget, I did indeed cringe and roll my eyes, but she was able to pull something out of her craft and create the perfect BJ (haha) on screen. Renee was Bridget. And along with the cad Hugh Grant and the gentleman Colin Firth, the chemistry was brilliant. Not only did Renee have chemistry with her two leading men, the two leading men had chemistry with one another! But all of this only came together due to a very well written script that balanced humor and romance with wit and charm. However, I am saddened that the last decade, Renee's RomCom choices have been less than stellar (including the BJ sequel), as have Hugh Grant (Did you hear about the Morgans? Nobody at the box office did, that's for sure!) Even the delightfully handsome and brilliant thespian Colin Firth couldnt' escape the RomCom curse (anyone seen the direct to dvd film, The Accidental Husband? Don't bother. It's beyond terrible) So yes, the RomCom relies much too much on an Actor's box office potential rather than their ability or who is right for the character. But I understand the draw. There are some actors who just sparkle in a certain genre (Meg Ryan in the 90's was the RomCom Queen, then Julia Roberts, then Sandra Bullock then Reese Witherspoon). I just hope that the likes of Megan Fox and Jessica Biel stick to what they do best, boobs and butt acting in Action flicks.
Actors who I'd like to see do more Romantic Comedies:
Next up. What Happened to the Romantic Comedy Part 2: Where's the Comedy?