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The Romantic Comedy Formula
by Jeff Winston

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The real love story is hidden in this great film.

The real love story is hidden in this great film.
We all know that most of the big movies that come out of Hollywood are formula movies. They are created and organized in just such a way so as to maximize incoming dollars. There are many different formula's out there, let's have a look at one of the most prevalent.

The Romantic Comedy Formula.

Very simple – Boy meets girl, girl either outright hates or is indifferent to boy, girl and boy interact in some kind of contrived way, girl thinks she likes boy, girl and boy have a major fight and boy and girl make up in some wonderful cinematic location or in some climactic way. Now of course, you can interchange the sexes in this formula, much like John Hughes did in the wonderful movie SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL. The formula however remains quite constant and is the backbone of MOST romantic comedies.

Now I like romantic comedies, they are a mindless watch, and in most cases (especially in mine) they are awesome for a good cry after a week of pent up emotion. They are however, as said, pretty mindless and try to appeal to the lowest common denominator. They usually deal with the stupid side of love and not the actual realities. The characters act in stupid ways and of course any problem that would be solved with a phone call saying "Can I come over" never is, as that would be too easy, and not very exciting.

Wasn't it so convenient that the two people who had opposite bets and opposite intentions for their next relationship just happened to get set up with each other in HOW TO LOSE A GUY IN TEN DAYS? I mean, come on, I know it was the plot for the movie, but that was so unrealistic that
I hate you, I love you, we have sex, I hate you, I love you . The end

I hate you, I love you, we have sex, I hate you, I love you . The end
you'd have made a killing betting a buck that it would happen in the real world.

I also loved how in many movies the heartfelt love confessions come when the woman is at the alter about to marry another guy, usually a douche bag, as in THREE MEN AND A LITTLE LADY. I mean, Tom Selleck's character knew it for months before, but he picks her wedding day to do it, and of course, only because he finds out the groom is a conniving prick who's actually going to destroy the family. As if this wasn't bad enough they marry each other two minutes later in front of the other guy's family. This is great for the ending of the film, but tasteless to do in real life.

Most romantic comedies are so absurd and over the top that you can't help but rip apart the entire plot. Movies like THE WEDDING PLANNER, EVER AFTER, THE BACHELOR, and many others are so overdone and cliché that it is truly laughable. The latter two dealing with finding love on a deadline and both just happen to find it in the span of days. Yes, because love is so easy to find, realize and act upon in a matter of days, yet most of us aren't even sure we totally love the other person after years of being together. Its actually kind fo insulting to suggest that love is that easy to find, and it influences people to act impulsively with what they think of as love, influencing us to make poor love choices, rush into things we are not ready for and in many cases to either get married to early and divorce, or to have unwanted children.

Now I know that this is all fiction and I should treat it as such, but I used to get pretty depressed when
She's his true love but he refuses to listen to her and throws her away.

She's his true love but he refuses to listen to her and throws her away.
life didn't happen the way it did in the movies. I always wanted love to be easy, and then I'd meet someone, fall head over heels like the movies showed was possible, and then get pissed off when the girl turned out to actually have issues I couldn't get through with her.

I was once head over heels with a woman, we fell into typical movie love, I can't live without you type feelings and then later she springs her true colors and I find out that she is extremely materialistic and I have to buy her top quality chocolates, take her to the best restaurants and get her into a top quality high square footage house if I expect her to be happy. Needless to say we broke up, and I came out of the relationship destroyed for years.

My point is this, love is much more complex than the stupid formulas that we see on the big screen, and it takes more time than and more knowledge about the person for it to be recognized as love. Just once I'd like to see a decent romantic comedy that examines the real life complexities of love, and makes it work as a film. To this day, I have yet to see one that doesn't take movie shortcuts to move the plot along, and cops out to simple solutions.

Of course, I'm talking about the romantic comedy genre. I know there are other romance type films out there that do love justice, but they are more drama than a romance. I have yet to see a movie that tries to be both romantic and humorous succeed at being realistic. Please inform me of any movies out there that you feel have succeeded. I welcome the chance to learn about the film if I haven't seen it, or discuss it with you if I have.

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Mouthing Off
Every other Thursday

Mouthing Off is the no bull, tell it like it is column on various issues in the Hollywood arena. You want PC, then keep on moving, you won't get it here.

Other Columns
Other columns by Jeff Winston:

The Money Pitt

Movies of South Korea

I Vant to Suck your Blud

Aren't Getting Their Due

Finally Getting Their Due - Underrated Actors

All Columns

Jeff Winston
I am a part time writer and full time teacher. I am currently stationed in the middle of nowhere, northern Alberta, Canada. I love movies, and I love to vent, I am happy to have an outlet to incorporate both here on Matchflick.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Jeff Winston by clicking here.

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