February 24th, 2019

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Some more on rom-coms

Hours from the Academy Awards, which Carole Lombard (shown above with Fred MacMurray in "True Confession") probably is monitoring from Hollywood heaven, thoughts on my favorite genre, the romantic comedy:

Variety film critic Owen Gleiberman wrote Friday that "Isn't It Romantic" (https://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/976643.html), now in its second weekend and doing decent if not overwhelming box-office business, proves a rom-com can succeed if it appeals to the altered tastes of a new clientele. ("Crazy Rich Asians" did that ethnically last year, although it was ignored in Oscar nominations.)

"There is now a whole generation that sees through its synthetic stylings and princess fakery -- and, more than that, feels fundamentally insulted by them," he commented. "Princess fakery"? Perhaps I should have illustrated another Lombard-MacMurray rom-com...

But I digress. Gleiberman says the film "demonstrates how it's possible to sustain the battle-weary, peeling-paint rom-com form for at least one movie: Skewer it, bury it, throw dirt on it, and resurrect it, all at the same time."

Of course, those of us who love old-school (pre-"When Harry Met Sally") rom-coms have made this argument for a long, long time. The greatest romantic comedy couple in film history, William Powell and Myrna Loy (did you think I'd write Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan or Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner?) more often than not were already married when their movies began -- and not only when they played Nick and Nora. (They are shown below as a married couple in "Love Crazy.")

I argue that making wedded bliss the goal of nearly all romantic comedies for the past 30-plus years, ostensibly designed to reflect the mindset of young female moviegoers who currently attend rom-coms (as opposed to the general audiences of the Powell-Loy era), has distorted and skewered the genre. Not that dreams of such bliss should be completely disposed of, merely the incessant conventions that accompany it (wedding dresses and the like).

Read Gleiberman's thoughts on the genre at https://variety.com/2019/film/columns/why-rom-coms-need-to-go-beyond-tropes-to-survive-1203145823/.

Nearly two weeks ago, we wrote about the inaugural Rom Com Fest set for June in Los Angeles (https://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/975726.html). Here's a press release with additional information on the event:

In addition to the screenplay component (of which I've entered through my script "Stand Tall!"), the fest is accepting films of all budgets and lengths that celebrate romantic comedy and female empowerment, a major part of the genre. Got something for them, or suggestions for classic rom-coms to screen? Drop them a line at https://romcomfest.com and order tickets, too. Hope I'll see you there in about four months.
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