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Are There Any Truly Romantic Films Made Anymore Which Aren’t Tainted by Infidelity & Deception or Not Totally Overshadowed by Sexual Content?

I posted the following on my Facebook status last night and an interesting discussion ensued:

“Was flipping back and forth between Matrix, My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Runaway Bride tonight (yeah, I know, exciting SAT night) and I got to thinking… when was the last time Hollywood put out a good romance film? It seems nowadays, every so-called “romance” film is either some stupid, immature teen flick or one where the adults are divorced and sleeping together on the 2nd date. That’s not romance.”

———-

My Big Fat Greek Wedding actually is a decent romantic comedy. There’s no focus on sex, there are no divorces, just a focus on what matters in romance: seeing the real person and falling for that person.

Runaway Bride had that same good message in it (you need to know who you are and not change yourself to be whom you think the other person wants you to be… and you need to truly see whom is the other person and love them for them)… but, of course, they have to have both people have past divorces in order for this message to finally sink in.

Off the top of my head, 50 First Dates seems to be another one that is pretty good. No sex, no past divorces, just a focus on liking the other person and getting to know them and falling for them.

Think about some of the other so-called “romances”…

You’ve Got Mail — BOTH people cheat on their significant others by having a ‘relationship’ through e-mail with someone else.

Sleepless in Seattle — Meg Ryan’s character cheats on her fiance and then flies across the country to spy on a guy she heard on the radio! Ummm, can we say STALKER?

Titanic — She cheats on her fiance and has sex within a few days of meeting Jack. On top of which, the idiot doesn’t move her fat ass to allow Jack on the floating board with her so he doesn’t freeze to death. Love? I think not.

Twilight — Please. That crap is romance? I think not. It’s FANTASY. As in Dungeons and Dragons type fantasy crap. Anyone who gets caught up in that as some sort of romance is delusional.

That’s just off the top of my head, but I know I can think of plenty more.

When was the last time that Hollywood put out an actual *normal* romantic film?

I then had someone in the comments suggest The Notebook, to which I responded:

The end of The Notebook is okay. The rest of it is pure CRAP.

Let’s see… they have an immature teen summer romance, at the end of which, they try to have sex together. They end up not doing it, because she freaks out or something.

Then, later in life, she’s about to get married, sees his picture in the paper and then decides to go visit him. She doesn’t tell her fiance the truth of why she’s going there. While she’s there, she ends up having sex with her teen love numerous times… ie she CHEATS ON HER FIANCE!

On the flip side, the guy spends his entire life stuck on this chick he fell in love with years ago when he was a teenager. It ends up consuming his entire life. He fills his void by having an affair with a widowed military wife.

In the end, she chooses to leave her fiance and go back to her teen summer love.

Now, at the END of the movie, where the older version explains to his children that he’s not going to leave his wife, just because she is in a home… THAT’S love. THAT is a good message. A message that too many people simply don’t have a damn clue about. The message that “in sickness and in health, good times and bad, until death do us part” actually MEANS something.

But the rest of the movie is crap.

Someone then suggested Groundhog Day, to which I replied:

Groundhog Day was a FANTASTIC movie. It had a GREAT message in it.

You notice that he couldn’t wake up from his ‘Groundhog Day’ until he completely learned his message. Part of it was to stop being selfish and part of it was that he couldn’t get the girl until he truly saw her for her and loved her for her. And he had to be sincere about his feelings and not just use things for tricks (ie using info about the hot chick to get her into bed the next day).

He worked hard initially simply to get information about the woman he liked to trick her into liking him. But it was all shallow and empty and it backfired. It was not until he truly learned to care about others, and do things for the sake of doing something good and not to benefit from it, that he finally was able to experience what he wanted.

I wouldn’t call that a romance movie, but it sortof applies. Good example!

I then thought of a couple more:

MUST LOVE DOGS — Both divorced. Meet from online ad and then go to have sex on the 2nd date and the only thing that stops them is neither of them have a condom.

HOW TO LOSE A GUY IN 10 DAYS — Sorry, you don’t fall in love with anyone in 10 freaking days.

Then I tried looking for a list of films deemed “romantic comedies” by Hollywood throughout history and came up with this: Box Office History for Romantic Comedy Movies

I broke down and analyzed a few of them I had seen:

Some Kind of Wonderful (1987) — Decent. No focus on sex and it’s one of those typical “in love with your best friend, not the hot chick you know nothing about” storylines.

Can’t Buy Me Love (1987) — Another decent one. Best part of the movie is when she shares her poems with him, when she wouldn’t dare share them with anyone else, because she felt she had to pretend to be different around them, while she feels she can truly be herself around Patrick Dempsey’s character. Good message there and no sex. Thumbs up.

Pretty Woman (1990) — Um, sorry, NO. Falling in love with a hooker over the course of 1 week does not make a love story.

Doc Hollywood (1991) — Decent, though they do almost have sex at the end and only stop, because he doesn’t want things to end like that.

It Could Happen to You (1994) — Really liked this movie, but again we have Nic Cage cheating on his wife and then he and Bridget Fonda having sex near the end.

While You Were Sleeping (1995) — Decent. No focus on sex. No past divorces, I don’t think. And she fell for the guy for him, not for superficial stuff. So decent.

French Kiss (1995) — Meh. Fiance cheats on Meg Ryan, so she basically falls for the guy who helps her try to get back at him. Pretty lame.

The Truth About Cats and Dogs (1996) — Meh. Not really a love story. He likes her voice on the radio show and she likes that he’s hot and likes animals. Whoopdiedoo.

Jerry Maguire (1996) — Meh. He marries her out of desperation, she marries him out of desperation, at the end he misses her because he can’t share a special moment with someone he cares about. Bad message in both people marrying out of desperation and having a nice little Hollywood ending fix things in the end. Overall, stupid story.

Fools Rush In (1997) — Only reason they get together is because he gets her pregnant. Wonderful…

The Wedding Singer (1998) — Liked the movie, but if you break it down, she’s cheating on her fiance. Yeah, sure, he’s an absolute jerk, but she should have dumped him LONG ago. Instead, she ends up sorta cheating on him by spending all that time with Adam Sandler’s character prepping for the wedding.  Although there is a good message for women who choose jerks over nice guys in it.  Adam Sandler’s character gets fed up with Drew Barrymore’s character and decides that he has to change himself from a nice guy to a jerk in order to get women to like him.  Whenever women whine about there not being any nice guys left to date, I remind them that *they* are the reason for that.  Nice guys see women pass on them and choose to date jerks all the time.  It sends the message that jerks get the women.  So, women, in my opinion, are responsible for the evolution of gentlemen and nice guys into jerks.

She’s All That (1999) — Idiotic teen flick.

Forces of Nature (1999) — Kinda sorta has an affair in the couple days leading up to his wedding.  Yeah, brilliant.

10 Things I Hate About You (1999) — Stupid teen flick.  Though, a decent message in the end.  Stuck-up, shallow younger sister realizes the hot, cool guy is a jackass and ends up with the dorky guy from 3rd Rock from the Sun and Heath Ledger gets Kat to lower her walls and allow herself to fall in love after he learns to like her for her, instead of just to win a bet.  Decent, for a teen flick.

Never Been Kissed (1999) — Awful movie for most of the movie, but the message at the end was decent.  Still, you don’t form a good relationship by pretending to be someone else and then magically the guy forgives you at the end.

Notting Hill (1999) — I actually liked this movie, but looking at the details, she cheated on her boyfriend and she slept with him on about the 3rd or 4th time they were together.  The overall message was all nice and tidy in that she just wanted to be seen as a normal girl, not a movie star, but still, lousy overall with the cheating and sex.

Fever Pitch (1999) — Decent in that there were no divorces, but they were sleeping together pretty much after the 2nd date or something.  He did one nice thing for her parents and BAM! she’s ready to give it up!  Brilliant.  And then she’s all bent out of shape when she thinks she may be pregnant.

I then finished up with the following rant after first addressing the suggestion of Message in a Bottle:

I’ve seen bits and pieces of Message in a Bottle as it’s been on TBS quite a bit or TNT. I know I’ve seen it at the part where he finds out she’s a reporter and he gets pissed off at her. But I’ve never watched it all the way through, because it seemed to go too slow for me and I really don’t like the main actress in it (Robin Wright). I can stand her in Princess Bride, but that’s about it.

I like “Can’t Buy Me Love”. It is a roller coaster, but in the end they both learn good lessons, I think, so it’s a good overall movie. Plus, no sex involved, as seems to be the case in all the teen flicks nowadays.

Another thing that got me thinking about this was seeing the previews for that stupid-looking “Charlie St. Cloud” teen movie coming out. Of course, part of the preview shows him taking his shirt off and another of them about to kiss. Gotta sell the sexual and shallow physical parts of relationships to sell movies it seems.

And that’s really what got me thinking. There was an article a while back I partially read where they stated that women/girls nowadays have their expectations of relationships ruined by getting into stupid chick flicks. And that seems about right. When was the last time there was an actual romance or romantic comedy that focused on actually getting to know the person and there was no sex involved? Back in the days when they didn’t show sex in movies, they focused the story more on the substantial and deep parts of relationships. Now they just have girls fall for guys with their shirts off and have sex after a few dates and that’s that. The focus of “romance” is completely superficial and shallow.

What’s interesting is that it seems women and girls are MUCH more shallow and naive than guys. Guys who see hot girls just think “man I want to get with her!”. Girls, though, will see a hot guy and go “man I want to marry him!” Guys get a bad rap for being shallow, but wanting to have sex with a girl, because she has a hot body is a lot less shallow than deeming someone *marriage material* simply because they have a hot body.

I’m of the Dr Laura Schlesinger school of romance, where you need to date someone at least a year before you can truly know them. You have to see them in many different experiences in life, go through ups and downs, see how they react to good and bad experiences, etc before you can truly get to know their character and decide whether or not you are a match and want to spend the rest of your life with that person. This nonsense of movies like “Dear John” where they “fall in love” in 2 weeks or “The Notebook” where they “fall in love” over a summer as teens and then she leaves her adult fiance later in life for a guy she hasn’t seen in years… absolutely ridiculous.

People like to complain about the divorce rate in this country and blame marriage for being lousy, instead of looking at themselves and realizing that marriage is fine, it’s *people* who screw up their own marriages and don’t take things seriously.

So… what say you? Anyone else have examples of truly romantic films, which are “normal” and not muddied up with promiscuous sex, infidelity and deception?

UPDATE on 04/02/2011: Erin R. Brown at Newsbusters addresses this issue today: Hollywood’s Current ‘Romantic Comedies’ Heavy on Hook Ups, Light on Romance

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August 1, 2010 , 3:21PM - Posted by | Hollywood, Love, Romance

2 Comments

  1. Although I do like several of those films you mentioned, I agree that they’re crap when it comes to “romance.” I don’t think there are any good romance movies today, mostly because people are so jaded and cynical that they can’t even fathom a true romantic relationship anymore. There was a movie I saw years ago (in the 90’s) with Ethan Hawke. He went to Paris(?) and found this girl and they ended up talking all night and walking around the city. I think it was called “Before Sunrise.” I think that might have been a decent romance flick but it’s been so long I don’t remember the details of the film. They might have had sex that night, though, so it might not qualify.

    Comment by Adrienne | August 4, 2010 , 11:34PM

    • I was watching The Wedding Singer last night as it was on TBS (I think) and I realized that while I like the movie overall, it still had the same ridiculous situations that eliminate it from being a true good romance.

      First, you have the girl marrying a guy who is a complete jerk and misogynist, simply because he has money. Then you have the girl falling for a guy during the preparation for her wedding, ie cheating on her fiance. Sure, they don’t have sex, but there is an emotional affair going on with both of them… while she’s supposed to be preparing for her wedding! Then, they wrap it up all tidy and neat by having them tell each other they “love” each other while getting rid of the jerk fiance. Sorry, you don’t “fall in love” within a few months of preparing for a wedding. And what is the “love” based on? Adam Sandler’s character is a nice guy for all he does in his life, but what does her character offer? She’s cute, sweet and cheats on her fiance. Yeah, there’s a winner!

      The sad thing is that I used to get caught up in the “romance” in these “romantic comedies” and now I just see them for what they are: relationship comedies. There is nothing truly romantic about them. They are immature, shallow and ridiculous.

      Comment by Michael in MI | August 22, 2010 , 2:01PM


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