I’ve had quite a lot of time on my hands this vacation, and as usual, a lot of that time has been spent watching movies. Over the past few days, I watched a lot of “romantic comedies”. The string started with The Accidental Husband, went on to include 100 Girls, She’s The Man and Chasing Liberty, and ended with The Proposal today. And while all these movies left me with that fuzzy feeling inside that I always get after watching/reading a romance, and a stupid smile on my face, none of these movies are going to stay with me. I doubt I’ll ever even watch any of them again. I just didn’t like them that much.
The first problem that I’ve noticed in a lot of “romantic comedies” is that the protagonists seem to be able to get to know each other enough to fall in love. Realistically, I mean. They do fall in love in the movie, but the time that they spend together, the time in which they apparently get to “know” each other, always seems way too short to me. Take The Proposal as an example. Margaret (Sandra Bullock) blackmails her assistant Andrew (Ryan Reynolds) into marrying her so that she can get a visa-extension and stay in the Unites States. Andrew duly agrees, and the “happy couple” visits his family in Alaska to announce the engagement. Except, of course, Margaret actually falls in love with Andrew, and runs away from the fake wedding, only to be proposed to by Andrew who comes after her. They get married, she gets her visa extended, and they “date” and presumably live happily ever after.
In this movie, Andrew has been working for Margaret for three years, and has hated her for all of those three years. She’s shown as being “tough”: she’s the office bitch. But in the three days that they spend together in Alaska, Andrew apparently sees the “real” Margaret and falls for her. But there is nothing that happens in those three days that could negate the effects of a three-year-long hatred. She shares a couple of personal stories about her past and tells Andrew about her tattoo, and that’s that, apparently.
There’s one scene that really bugged me in She’s The Man. The movie is about Viola who impersonates her twin brother Sebastian in order to join his school’s soccer team, and in the process, falls for her [brother’s] roommate. In the scene in which “Sebastian” is revealed to be Viola, a girl, the roommate Duke is duly shocked, though not because he spent so much time with her without realizing that she’s a girl. No, his disbelief was because “I know Viola. I kissed Viola.” The only contact that Duke knowingly had with Viola was a kiss they shared at a “kissing booth”. That, apparently, is all Duke needs to know Viola.
The second thing that annoys me about these romantic comedies is that the heroine never seems to have enough of a personality. There is nothing that comes across in the movie that would make someone fall in love with them. In Chasing Liberty, the First Daughter of USA runs away with a photographer to get away from her ever-present bodyguards, not knowing that the photographer is also a Secret Service agent. The couple spend a few days traveling around Europe and end up falling in love. Throughout the movie, the only aspects of Anna’s personality that we see are a demand for independence and a penchant for creating “theories” of life, neither of which seem to me to be enough for Ben (who did display some personality) to fall for her so badly.
This is something that I’ve disliked in many books I’ve read too. The heroines never seem to have a personality! In nearly every Mills and Boons I’ve read, the guy is always a handsome, strong, rich playboy-type, generally sarcastic and arrogant, with an inclination to play Knight in Shining Armour. But the heroines don’t have a personality at all! They’re all beautiful, of course, and seem to love being the Damsel in Distress often, but beyond that, there’s nothing!
Georgette Heyer’s romances are really good with respect to time the “couple” spends together and personalities of the women. The main romance is always developed properly, over a long period of time, even though the stories of the side characters may be hasty and synthetic. Her main heroines are always more than just a pretty face (several of them are not even pretty, which is a massive step up from many other romances). This is also one of the reasons why I love Jab We Met. Kareena Kapoor does have a personality, a very memorable and strong, though fairly annoying, one.
I’d like to watch a light-hearted romance in which the story seems real and plausible. Made of Honour is a movie that I really liked: Patrick Dempsey and Michelle Monaghan were friends for ten years before they fell in love. I can’t think of any other romantic comedies I’ve watched that had a reasonable storyline, but I’m sure there are some. Recommendations?