Leading up to the Oscars, there was a lot of conversation regarding Silver Linings Playbook’s status as this year’s token “rom com” nomination. Was Silver Linings Playbook a romantic comedy? Of course it was. But the dismissive categorization stings of generalization, maybe even a dash of misogyny. Because what’s the other phrase synonymous with “rom com”? Say it with me. It rhymes, too, and everything. Chick flick.
To dismiss all romantic comedies as mindless fluff is akin to dismissing all comedians as Dane Cooks. Yes, there’s a lot of shit out there, because lots of people have terrible taste (like the filthy chalkduster who listed Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason as the third best romantic comedy of all time in a list that came up in my research). But the good is great.
Let’s start with the pinnacle.
The Princess Bride
There is a fundamental truth to this world, and it is that there exists three perfect movies: Ghostbusters, Back to the Future and The Princess Bride. And while taste is subjective, if someone does not like any of these three movies, I don’t want to know this person because I don’t want to know people whose blood runs with the tears of children and whose hearts beat with a dull throb of Satan’s worst hemorrhoid. And that’s just that.
And, yes, people outraged at this classic being callously dropped into the category of “romantic comedy”—that’s what it is. It’s a love story, it’s a kissing book, it’s a romantic comedy. Deal with your life. You may cry, “but it’s so much more! It’s action and fantasy and adventure and and and” and that’s true, but guess what it also is? A ROMANTIC COMEDY. Accept it. You like a romantic comedy. Once you embrace this, we can move on with the list.
When Harry Met Sally
There are people who don’t like this movie. People I like. People I respect. And as a friend, I can categorically tell you that these people are entitled to their own opinions. And those opinions are wrong. This movie is made of warmth and snuggles and cute old people. Who doesn’t like cute old people? Monsters. Monster people who lack souls. And my cat. She’s not wild about old people. See that part about lacking souls.
A number of people who dislike this and several other films in the genre seem to be of the impression that all movies need to speak to them, to their experiences. So, sorry that your friend in college who was sooo saaaad s/he couldn’t find someone just like you and showed no interest in having sex with you. That sucks. But don’t blame Nora Ephron. Nora Ephron is a saint.
Better Off Dead
Others would have gone with Say Anything. I get it. It is, after all, one of my favorite movies of all time. But it’s a bit more rom-com-dram. Lloyd and Diane, their love, while beautiful, is damaged. Diane needs a lot of therapy before things can really work out between those two crazy kids. If you want laughter with your love (and, yes, I’m going to start freelancing blurbs to Armond White) then you must go Better Off Dead. Because I love a movie that can be best described as “wacky” and manage to not be completely obnoxious and terrible, holding on to at least a modicum of intelligence and heart. And Fraahnch fries.
John Cusack hates it. Finding that out ruined my lifelong devotion to John Cusack. There ya go, Klosterman, there’s the cure. Bottle and sell.
Bridget Jones’s Diary
So, in the last five or six years, Jane Austen went mainstream. Good for Jane and all, couldn’t happen to a better lady, but that led to some really painful things, like this and, for shit’s sake, this (please read that plot synopsis, it will change your life). But, sometimes, a great adaptation and celebration comes along (Armond, boo, call me, I work cheap) and my beloved, beloved Bridget Jones is just that.
LOOK AT HIM. GIVE HIM YOUR UNDERPANTS.
He likes you. Just the way you are.
While You Were Sleeping
Two words: Joe, Jr. He loves dah black underwears.
Sigh. If the other ones didn’t do it for you, this will. And if this doesn’t, well, your heart is a sad, empty place, and I’m sorry about whatever happened to you that brought you here. Did Jack Lemmon run over your dog? I’m really super sorry about that time Jack Lemmon ran over your dog.
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