July 3rd, 2019

carole lombard 03
  • vp19

There's hope for the rom-com yet

I don't know how you plan to spend your July 4th holiday. You may be at a summer home, a la Carole Lombard and Fred MacMurray in 1937's "True Confession." (Part of it was filmed at Lake Arrowhead.) You may spend time watching a romantic comedy, such as the one above, and the good news is that the genre is undergoing a revival of sorts.

One of the movies leading the way is a Netflix release, "Always Be My Maybe," which the streaming service released in May (along with a brief theatrical showing).

The film evokes rom-coms of years past -- both from Lombard's era and the genre's boom in the 1990s -- but adds touches to bring it up to date with current societal mores.

For one thing, leads Randall Park and Ali Wong (who co-wrote the film with Michael Golamco) are both Asians (and real-life friends), in the Far East footsteps of last year's unexpected box-office hit "Crazy Rich Asians." For another, the characters are low-key and sympathetic.

No wonder it's drawing raves (a cameo from Keanu Reeves doesn't hurt, either). Even the conservative-libertarian site The Federalist likes it (https://thefederalist.com/2019/06/05/always-maybe-breathes-life-gasping-rom-com-genre/).

In recent weeks, I've written quite a bit about Rom Com Fest, the downtown Los Angeles event celebrating the genre last month.

I'm delighted to discover that yesterday, the Washington Post got into the act with a lengthy story about the festival (https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2019/07/02/welcome-rom-com-fest-haven-fans-who-never-stopped-believing-happily-ever-after/?utm_term=.7e353bac5e91).

While the story too often seemingly conflates rom-coms with "chick flicks," and worse overlooks the halcyon days of the genre -- Carole, William Powell and Myrna Loy, Cary Grant, etc. -- it makes for fun reading. I hope it reminded many of my old friends in the D.C. area about the joys of movies such as the brilliant "Libeled Lady," where Powell and Loy teamed with Jean Harlow and Spencer Tracy to reel in some comedic magic:

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