Why Do I Love Bad Romantic Comedies?

Romantic ComedyModern 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.

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9 thoughts on “Why Do I Love Bad Romantic Comedies?

  1. Julie Gardner

    I concur with much of your “Appeal” category (who doesn’t love Hank Azaria?) and would add another dimension that has elevated many a weak film to “less-weak” status:

    Soundtrack.

    A good song can make me THINK I’m enjoying a movie even more than I am.

    Like that scene in Something Borrowed (which I enjoyed) when Radiohead is playing and Rachel is standing in the rain…(or running or crying; it doesn’t matter. what matters is the music rocks).

    I loved it. And I turn it on whenever it shows up on HBO.

    Reply
    1. karengreenfield Post author

      Julie, that’s an excellent point. One of my favorite rom-coms is The Truth About Cats & Dogs, and I think the soundtrack is about 50 percent of its appeal. I have been so embarrassed about liking Something Borrowed, so thank you for your support!

      Reply
  2. Lee Anne Dollison

    Romcoms are the chocolate of the movie realm. Sweet empty calories that always make you smile. My favs: “When Harry Met Sally ” (my favorite romcom of all time), “My Best Friend’s Wedding” (Julia Roberts—Rupert Everett—Hello), “Sleepless in Seattle” and it’s poor cousin “You’ve Got Mail. ” or any romcom with Tom Hanks, for that matter (I too loved “Joe Versus the Volcano”), and anything by Woody Allen. Even when Woody’s below par, he’s still better than anyone else. Take notes, Judd Apatow.

    Reply
    1. karengreenfield Post author

      Thank you, Lee Anne. I like that metaphor. I thought I was the only one who “got” Joe Versus the Volcano. I have many favorites that didn’t fit into the blog post, including Crossing Delancey, French Kiss, Hannah and Her Sisters, It’s Complicated, Something’s Gotta Give, etc. Of course, I agree about Woody!

      Reply
  3. Erick

    Hi Karen. I adore what you typed about “Joe vs’ the Volcano”. (“offbeat awesomeness”!) Can you please tell me who made the spoof movie poster you have placed here (“romantic comedy” “popular actor” / “popular actress”) – it is near perfect (sadly near perfect) – we are all so programmed. Thank you for your help.

    Reply
  4. Pingback: Where Author and MC Meet: Part 3 | Lauren See Writes

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