Modern classics like Annie Hall (rated 8.2 on IMDB) and When Harry Met Sally… (7.6) lend legitimacy to my favorite movie genre, romantic comedy. (I wonder if A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Taming of the Shrew did the same for rom-coms in the 1590s.) There is no shame, I think, in being entertained by a solid, respectable romantic comedy, such as Forgetting Sarah Marshall (7.3) or Crazy, Stupid, Love. (7.5). But then there are the not-so-good lovey-dovey-funny films, the ones that give romedies a bad name. They’re predictable and limply humorous, with hackneyed characters and contrived plots. The thing is, I love these pieces of crap. But why?
I thought I might be able to find the answer by identifying what really draws me to view certain poorly rated romantic comedies over and over. I caution you against seeing any of these 10 films. Yet they have brought me many hours of pleasure. Please don’t waste your time on them. But I kind of love them.
|Romantic Comedy||IMDB Rating||The Appeal|
|Along Came Polly||5.8||Great character names (Reuben Feffer, Polly Prince); best performance by a ferret; Hank Azaria as Claude, the scuba instructor.|
|Bride Wars||5.1||Some good lines (“If I were your wedding, I’d sleep with one eye open,” “Miss Wang is a stern mistress,” “You’re like this very tall, very hot Smurf,” “The International Butter Club?”).|
|Fools Rush In||5.8||Love overcomes culture clash; the poor man’s My Big Fat Greek Wedding (6.5).|
|Ghosts of Girlfriends Past||5.7||Michael Douglas as a smarmy womanizer, Matthew McConaughey as his smarmy protégé.|
|Joe Versus the Volcano||5.5||I flatly reject the IMDB rating. This movie is offbeat awesomeness.|
|Sex and the City||5.2||I was such a fan of the show that I am compelled to embrace its “snuggly” offspring.|
|Someone Like You||5.9||Very likable and/or sexy stars: Ashley Judd, Greg Kinnear, Hugh Jackman.|
|Something Borrowed||5.7||The smart girl gets the hot guy.|
|The Wedding Planner||4.9||I’m a sucker for Jennifer Lopez (and apparently for smarmy Matthew McConaughey; see Ghosts of Girlfriends Past). The supporting characters are charming.|
|What’s Your Number?||5.8||The funny, creative girl gets the hot guy. Also, the protagonists are always eating (wedding cake, pizza, Chinese food, sandwiches, snacks).|
So have I learned anything from this exercise? Not really. Perhaps the allure of the rom-com is that its ending is guaranteed to be happy—or at worst bittersweet, as in the case of Annie Hall. Near the end of that movie, Woody Allen’s character says, “You’re always trying to get things to come out perfect in art, because it’s real difficult in life.” Maybe that’s why romantic comedies, even bad ones, are so satisfying.
Everything comes out perfect.