For the past couple of weeks, I took a break from my fantasy and Star Wars viewing and watched a bunch of romantic comedies. There were the Christmas/holiday movies, and then there were a bunch of movies leaving Prime at the end of December that I wanted to watch, most of which were rom-coms, so that was what I did between Christmas and the new year. Here’s a quick rundown of the ones that were good enough to be memorable.
Something from Tiffany’s (Amazon Prime original) — I’d put this into a similar category as The Holiday or While You Were Sleeping, since it’s a movie set during the holiday season rather than really being a “Christmas movie,” and most of it takes place between Christmas and New Year’s Day. There’s just enough holiday to give it a festive vibe, but not so much that you would feel weird watching it at any other time of year.
One man is buying an engagement ring to propose to his girlfriend at Tiffany’s while another man is buying a small pair of earrings for his girlfriend, and when there’s an accident just outside the store, the bags get swapped, so the girlfriend of the guy just buying earrings opens her present to find an engagement ring, while the one expecting an engagement ring gets earrings. The mix-up leads both couples to reconsider things. I thought this one was a lot of fun. The cast is very engaging and there’s a good energy to it. I think it might even have worked as a big-screen release, if they still made rom-coms for the big screen.
Sleepless in Seattle — this is a classic, and I’d been planning to rewatch it ever since reading a biography of Nora Ephron earlier in the year. I think I’ve only seen it once, so it was like seeing a new movie. I was supposed to see it on a date — the guy asked me out specifically to see this movie but he hadn’t checked the listings, so he didn’t know where or when it was showing. When we finished dinner, he suggested we drive by the nearby theater to see if it was playing there. It had started about half an hour earlier. I wasn’t having enough fun to want to drive around to other theaters (this was in the days before smart phones allowed you to look up things like movie times) or hang out to wait for the next showing, so I didn’t end up seeing the movie until about a year later when I rented it while I was recovering from knee surgery. I remembered some parts of the movie, but the whole middle was new to me and some of the mental images I remembered weren’t in the movie, so I might have zoned out while on painkillers for part of the movie and dreamed something. I liked it more this time than I recall liking it then. I was hanging out with a lot of romance authors at that time, and they hated it because it wasn’t really a romance to them. I think if it were published as a book it would be more of a “chick lit” sort of thing. It is a little creepy how she basically stalks him while she’s engaged to someone else, but I still like the characters and the idea of not settling.
The Cutting Edge — another classic. I hadn’t realized this was written by Tony Gilroy, who’s the showrunner and one of the writers for Andor. I’d seen this one over and over because my friends and I often rented it for movie nights during the 90s but hadn’t watched it in a long time, and I think it holds up well. I love figure skating and rom-coms, so win! The day after I watched it, I found the DVD on the clearance shelf at the used bookstore, so now I have a copy.
The Proposal — I’d never actually seen this one, in which a Devil Wears Prada-type book editor forces her assistant to marry her so she can stay in the country, only to find herself falling for him and his family. I’m not sure anyone but Sandra Bullock could have pulled this role off and managed to make that character vulnerable and charming under the bitchy exterior. It’s funny how closely it parallels While You Were Sleeping, in spite of it being a very different story and polar opposite character. I have to give Sandra Bullock huge props for gender flipping the usual Hollywood age difference and getting much younger men as her romantic leading men in both this and The Lost City.
About Fate — Another Prime original new this year. It’s hard to describe this one without giving away some twists, and I don’t think the description on their site is very good or at all accurate, so here goes my blurb: A man and woman have to consider the role of fate when their eerily parallel lives intersect on New Year’s Eve.
This is another one that could have been released for the big screen. I liked the characters and actually wanted them to get together. It was sweet and romantic and funny. Apparently, it’s a remake of an old Soviet movie that’s a major tradition in Russia. It’s shown on TV every New Year’s Eve, and just about everyone has it memorized. The reviews from people familiar with the original are very negative, so now I’m curious if there’s a subtitled version of the original out there, but I liked this one a lot. It even inspired a couple of story ideas I want to play with.
I noticed while watching all of these that the romance is seldom my favorite part of a romantic comedy. I tend to like the other relationships — the family and friends. Or I like the relationship between the hero and heroine before things get romantic. My favorite part of most of these movies, though, is the character growth, seeing the transformation of the characters. That may be why I don’t mind that the hero and heroine in Sleepless in Seattle don’t meet until the end. It’s not really about the romance, it’s about her figuring out who she is and what she really wants.
This could explain why I was wildly unsuccessful as a romance novelist. I managed to fake it long enough to sell a few books, but I couldn’t sustain it. I’m better off writing things that are about something else but that have romantic possibilities.