Tag Archives: romcom

Earning the Ending

HEA

I think most of us like to feel that an ending is deserved in a book or a movie and that applies across the spectrum of genres. I’m only going to discuss romances however. The other night I watched Set It Up on Netflix after reading a glowing review from Vox. Meh. While the office humor was cute, the romance aspect was basically all snark and zero chemistry. The ending basically consisted of the protags going hey we might as well get together now since we’re both free and sarcastic. But there was no real epiphany or character arc or anything interesting wrt either one of them. What’s sort of ironic is that this is how we often behave in real life, since people don’t like to work for things (work? waaah!), which utterly sucks ~ and idk about you, but I want my fiction to be better than real life!

Compare this to one of the best romcoms of all time When Harry Met Sally. The protags change during the film and make the audience feel an anxious longing for them to work through the obstacles preventing them from being together. When Harry runs through the streets of New York City on New Year’s Eve to find Sally, we’re right there with him, feeling his desperation. Harry and Sally both grow as characters during the film (which takes place over a decade) and do more than just snark at each other to create sparks. Think about your favorite romcom ~ you’ll likely agree that the protags have to change and overcome character traits or fears in order to be with their soul mate. This doesn’t just happen via lazy banter and geographical convenience. Love should be earned and fought for, not handed out in the last scene like a party favor.

The same goes for romance novels, which are heavier on the romance and lighter on the comedy (though the best ones are witty too). I recently read two that seemed similar cuz they both were about fictional dukes in England around the same time period, but one had an earned happily ever after ending and one did not. They were both enjoyable, for different reasons, but I gave one 3 stars and the other 4, because of the earned aspect.

In How to Forget a Duke, neither protag changes significantly during the novel other than falling in love. The main issue that keeps them apart is resolved by someone else fixing it, not by either the hero or heroine figuring out a way around the issue or deciding it is not as important as their lurve. That gave me the sads. But in From Duke Till Dawn, both protags change during the novel (and more than once) and have various epiphanies about each other, themselves, and life in general. It’s a really good book and the ending is earned. I didn’t give it 5 stars because I simply can’t bear ridiculous coinkydinks, and if a duke with his massive resources can find people anywhere, why couldn’t he have found Cassandra when she disappeared the first time? Anyway…

I’m glad I stumbled across that Vox article I linked in the first para because it referenced The Daily Beast’s 2014 essay declaring that the romcom is dead, which I hadn’t heard before. Is that true? TDB makes a good argument for it ~ and I haven’t seen many (any?) decent new romcoms in the last 5 years or so. I loved The Big Sick, if that counts as one, but even if… that’s just one. Can you think of any other recent big-screen romcoms?

Oh well, there are still are romantic books to read. Remember books? 🙂

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Sabrina, 1995

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For some odd reason, I never saw Sabrina (the 1995 version with Harrison Ford) until this weekend, even though Prime constantly recommended it. I generally like Ford, and romcoms, so it’s baffling. Well, turns out I hated it. What a horrible movie! Maybe I had some weird subconscious warning, who knows.

This bloggery will spoil the movie, so if for some inexplicable reason you want to see it, quit reading now and go watch a cute kitty video.

Sabrina begins like a typical romcom with an obscenely wealthy family, two handsome brothers, and one cute daughter of the chauffeur  ~ too young for both of them. Oh, sorry I’m being judgy already. My bad. (But this isn’t an 1890s romcom, it’s set in the 1990s, so I take my apology back.) Sabrina has a crush on the younger brother, David, but goes off to Paris as a Vogue intern (because that happens) yada. While in Paris she learns that David has become engaged to a doctor and she’s heartbroken. Immediately she morphs from a pretty young girl with a fresh face and long hair to a sophisticated vamp with short hair and impeccable style. Why? Dunno. But it seems to be a thing in movies and on TV that women chop off their hair to signal post-heartbreak fortitude.

Sabrina jets home to Long Island, where David doesn’t recognize her and starts his seductive routine until Linus (H. Ford) steps in to put a stop to it. The doctor fiance, you see, isn’t just any gorgeous doctor, but a TYSON, and Linus needs Daddy Tyson for some merger because of an indestructible TV screen. It’s all very complicated and worth a billion dollars. Sabrina and David aren’t dissuaded however, but David sits on some champagne glasses and gets a cut-up butt, so while he’s recovering Linus begins to woo Sabrina. Apparently she’s this brainless, faithless dingbat who can easily transfer her lurve from one brother to another while he’s telling her a series of idiotic lies. Oh, this is my halfway house. This homeless man here I helped when he got out of prison. And Sabrina the Paris sophisticate gobbles it all up. WTF?

Suddenly Linus grows a conscience and decides he can’t do this any longer, right after he bought plane tix for Paris, for himself and Sabrina, where he was planning to ditch her, jet back home, and finish the Tyson deal and see David married to the doc. He confesses to Sabrina that he’s a horrible person, etc. He knows she’s always loved David, and he’s going to transfer his ticket to David’s name so they can go to Paris together and be happy. Sabrina takes her ticket, says goodbye to people, and leaves. David decides that Linus must really love Sabrina to jeopardize a billion dollars, tells him to keep his original ticket, and insists he go after her. David and the doc go on as if nothing happened, and the deal with Daddy Tyson continues unharmed. Linus flies to Paris and reunites with Sabrina, who apparently would have fallen into the arms of whichever brother showed up! Not that anyone actually ever cares how Sabrina feels at any point in this whole freaking mishmash! Except maybe her father, the chauffeur, but he’s satisfied when Linus says that he needs Sabrina, and he’s never needed anything before. Okay then!

So dumb. So enraging. I assume the older version is similar, but I’d have to pay to see it, so no thank you.

Also, I want to talk about the brothers’ mother, Nancy Marchand. Yes, Livia. It’s like she was auditioning for the Sopranos’ part in advance, I swear to God. She is the exact same character and it freaked me out! I could not believe it. I was all, WTF is Livia Soprano doing at this fancy schmancy Long Island party? The same voice, the same tone, the same mannerisms. I expected Uncle Junior to pop in next. When she was lecturing Linus on going too far in wooing Sabrina and said, “I didn’t teach you this,” that was SO LIVIA. I wanted her to say, “Does your Uncle Tony know?” Eeeeeeee!!! She was a bright spot in the movie.

Nancy M. had a long and interesting career.

Creature Features & Jigsaw Puzzles

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I have a clear memory of watching Creature Features with my mom in the basement of our townhouse in Illinois, which she had turned into a rec room with a ping-pong table, TV, stereo, etc. It was Illinois, if you missed that in the preceding sentence, 40 miles north of Lake Michigan, where it got so cold that if you dropped a record on the floor it would shatter like a dinner plate. (This actually happened.)

I’ve always said I remember putting giant jigsaw puzzles together with my mom while we watched scary movies, and generally, but I was trying to call up a specific memory of this and it’s not working. It actually doesn’t even make sense. The only table we had in the basement large enough for a 1000-2000 piece puzzle was on the side of the room that didn’t have the TV. The stairs were in the middle. Right in front of the stairs was a little storage type room my dad used as a darkroom for photography. On the right side was a TV, sofa, coffee table, etc. On the left side was an old dining room table, another sofa, and the stereo system. We would have had to use the old dining table for the puzzles. So how would we have been watching Creature Features at the same time? Memory fail.

Even though I enjoyed these campy horror movies at the time (because mommy was there), I’ve disliked horror since. Pretty much the entire horror film genre falls into the dislike pile, but I do reserve some exceptions for books, Stephen King in particular. It’s not because the movies themselves are all terrible; it’s because I don’t enjoy having my emotions manipulated to that extent. Now you’ll say I don’t mind the same thing when it happens in the romcoms. And I’ll just shrug. Because people are inconsistent, and I’m a people too. Shockeroo!

The two Creature Features that stayed with me all these years I dub “Coconut Sea Monster” and “Alpine Beheader.” The first was about guys on a military submarine who kept getting murdered brutally cuz one of them had morphed into a monster due to radiation exposure. We didn’t see the murderer until the end and he looked like he was covered in coconut. It was really freaky! The otter one was about peeps trapped in a ski resort during a blizzard and some snow vampire kept grabbing one at a time and ripping off their head. Icky!

You know, this could very well be why I dislike both sailing and skiing. A-ha!

Still love coconut though. Nothing comes between me and a coconut donut.

As far as jigsaw puzzles, still love doing those, but don’t have room for them in my current place, can’t isolate one from the kitty anyway, and they seem sort of time-wastey when I have so many otter projects I want to finish as far as writing and needlework and staring at the walls. Someday though… when I retire maybe, bring on the jigsaw puzzles again! Hey, I wonder if they have Creature Feature puzzles? That could be a thing.

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The Daily Prompt: Creature

That’s Entertainment

Entertain

Along with many other things, I’ve become extremely picky wrt movies as I’ve aged. It also helps to have an enormous variety from which to choose. I have several theaters nearby, access to Amazon Prime, Netflix, HBO Now, and my own library of DVDs. When I’m in the mood for a flick, I don’t have to settle for any old yawner.

The bottom line about a movie for me is entertainment. If I want to read about an event from history, I’ll look that up myself. I don’t want to see two hours of a long, dragged out battle or unrelenting gore. Gah. Of course there are exceptions, like if Brad Pitt is plotting to kill Hitler, I’m in. I don’t want to watch a bunch of robots, zombies, or Bruce Willis. I don’t like horror and mostly dislike science fiction, unless it’s really compelling and/or about human relationships primarily, not blasty laser battles. Forex, I liked The Martian, Arrival, and Blade Runner 2049.

I love a good romcom, which basically means one starring Meg Ryan. There are a few others in my fave list, such as 27 Dresses and My Big Fat Greek Wedding. But not many. Most are awful, unless they star Meg Ryan. Oh, Sandra Bullock did some good ones too, but now she mostly does those /who needs men anyway/ movies, which are even better. One is coming up later this year ~ Ocean’s 8 ~ and I’m totes seeing that (have to see the otter three Oceans first).

Love mob movies. One of my fave movies of all time is Goodfellas. Love spoofs of mob movies too ~ Analyze This! And of course The Sopranos on HBO rocked. (A bunch of series shows are fab ~ GOT, SFU, BB, G&F, etc.) Comedies generally? Depends. Some are great, some horrible.

I thought I would enjoy seeing old musicals on Prime, but I have to admit I don’t. They’re so boring. Guess I’m a newer musical lover only. Sound of Music, Chicago, Walk the Line, My Fair Lady, Fiddler on the Roof, Zorba the Greek, Grease, Hair, Mamma Mia! A sequel to Mamma Mia is coming this summer, yay! I just saw The Greatest Showman and liked it a lot.

Regular dramas? Hit or miss. It just depends on the specific movie and I can’t count on reviews at all. I don’t trust Rotten Tomatoes/critics because my opinion doesn’t gibe with the norm. Forex, I loved Collateral Beauty and it received crappy reviews; Baby Driver was raved about everywhere and I found it mediocre. Loved Lion, didn’t like Manchester by the Sea. Enjoyed The Accountant, and I think a sequel is coming. Other films I liked last year include Lady Bird, Kingsman, The Big Sick, Wonder Woman, and The Glass Castle.

I’m planning to see Molly’s Game and Phantom Thread at the theater soon. Those both look interesting via their trailers. I’ve completed S2 of my Game of Thrones rewatch and am enjoying it just as much (if not more) the second time around. My list of wanna-sees on Prime etc. is long and getting longer, almost as impossible as my list of books to read. But those are both nice “problems” to have, right? There is always some form of great entertainment around. What a wonderful luxury!

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The Daily Prompt: Entertain