Romantic comedies get a bad reputation for being entrenched in formula and contrivances, built on cliches, and bringing in millions upon millions of dollars at the box office for appealing to the lowest common denominator. On the one hand, this drives me crazy because this is true for basically every genre. Look at action movies or horror movies, or even comedies in general. 90 to 95% of the horror movies that come out in any given year are total crap, but the genre isn’t disregarded as flippantly as romantic comedies, and it’s hard to believe that the reason for that isn’t due to the gender of the primary demographic going to see them. On the other hand, all of those things said about rom coms are completely true. The genre is mired in mediocrity. The latest ultr-bland addition to the pile, rehashing the same cliches we’ve seen a thousand times, setting up a potentially interesting relationship only to let their fate be decided by lazy contrivances is Love, Rosie.
You may not have heard of Love, Rosie (I haven’t seen a single trailer, poster, or ad of any kind for it, and the biggest name in it is Finnick from the Hunger Games movies), but you know its plot. Boy (Alex, played by Sam Claflin) and girl (Rosie— Lily Collins) are the English Dawson and Joey minus a creek: best friends and definitely nothing more, except that they desperately love each other but no! We must ignore our feelings because we’re both incapable of having an honest conversation, despite ostensibly being such great friends. This inability to express their feelings is tolerable when the characters are 18, but since the movie spans 12 years, it’s completely insufferable by the time they hit 25. The traditional story shakes things up a bit when Rosie gets knocked up by her douchy prom date. Alex heads off to college in the U.S. before finding out, and in trying to hide the pregnancy from him (really?), the two BFFs fall out of touch. From there, the film bumps along from missed connection to bad timing to unopened heartfelt letter. She’s ready to admit her feelings just as he’s gotten another woman pregnant (yes, pregnancy is a catalyst for quite a few plot twists in this movie); then he’s ready just as she’s unavailable. It’s a rom com connect-the-dots, fueled only by a better than decent chemistry (or possibly just the blindness caused by two people this attractive sharing a screen), and some very pretty shots of light filtering through trees and whatnot.
What’s really infuriating about this movie is that it’s not actually terrible. The leads are charismatic and VERY pretty, the plot is unoffensive, and the soundtrack has some (sometimes overly) clever gimmicks. (I hated myself for how much I enjoyed Rosie’s labor being set to Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It”, but Lily Allen is the PERFECT post-break-up music). In fact, while watching it on VOD in my pajamas in the middle of a weekend afternoon, nursing a mild hangover, it was perfectly enjoyable. It wasn’t until I actually had to process what I had just watched that it all melted into crap. So, like the vast majority of mediocre niche genre movies, if you’ve got a couple hours to fill and don’t want something so dumb it hurts, but also don’t want to challenge your brain to any perceptible degree, Love, Rosie is as good a choice as anything else.