Complex issues of romantic comedies

Summer is near, and so is the end of romantic comedy season. Now that Americans have horror flicks and real comedies to look forward to, they can forget about the series of cliché romantic comedies that plague theaters in January, February and March.


A close friend recently said that people who gravitate toward romantic comedies tend to substitute these films for real relationships, and most people love to point out that real love would never play out the way that such movies portray. The biggest issue with romantic comedies is that they are far too often predictable and unrealistic — but unrealistic in different ways than most would argue.

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It's too easy — not to mention false — to claim that ""The Notebook"" does not reflect any existing relationship in the world. This pessimistic attitude comes from someone who has never had or does not even have hope for a magnetic, out-of-this-world connection with another person. Not everyone can be Noah and Allie, the lovers in the movie, but certain couples can be on eternal cloud nine. It's very possible to have this sort of strong bond with someone, but you need to have an open heart and an acceptance of vulnerability beforehand, and some people are unwilling to take the risk of being emotionally shattered.


""The Notebook,"" similar to other films of passionate romance, is not a fantasy tale, much to the disappointment of naysayers. It is hard to believe, however, that the actresses in most contemporary romantic comedies would get the roles of women that have absolutely no luck with any men.


With great love stories such as ""The Notebook"" also comes bitter tragedies such as ""The Break-Up"" and even ""The Last Kiss."" ""The Break-Up,"" a highly underrated romantic comedy, alludes to the actual nature of many relationships. The couple spends the entire film arguing and they don't come together in the end. While this doesn't make for good escapism, it's realistic and more of what a romantic comedy should be. A lot of people will be in a healthy relationship at some point, but they'll probably face multiple dramatic break-ups beforehand. It's a shame that ""The Break-Up"" couldn't spark a new trend in romantic comedies.


In two memorable, recent romantic comedies, the beautiful Katherine Heigl has taken on the role of a ""woe is me,"" perpetually unattached businesswoman, and a tan, blond and thin one, at that.


""The Ugly Truth,"" which came out last summer, starred Heigl and Gerard Butler. She plays a busybody control freak that scares away the male species with her Type-A behavior. It's understandable that she'd be alone as a result of her difficult personality, but plenty of women suffer from this problem, and it doesn't mean that they'll be alone forever. Someone as gorgeous as Heigl could surely win the heart of a man in spite of her bossy antics. She's solo and lonesome in the 2008 film ""27 Dresses,"" yet she has no distinct character flaws to justify her single lifestyle.


Why give Heigl, who was ranked 14th on the Maxim magazine Hot 100 of 2007 list, this type of role? Casting has surely become the most outward flaw of romantic comedies. Women everywhere praised the 2001 ""Bridget Jones's Diary"" for telling the story of a female character that is not a size zero with protruding hipbones. Bridget Jones, played by Renee Zellweger, is on the curvier side, has a beer belly and goes after sleazy guys. This romantic comedy speaks truer to what really happens in relationships.


It would be far too negative to state that romantic comedies are unrealistic for trying to prove that women everywhere have their prince charming. Not all women want that, but if someone truly wants this type of relationship enough, they could create it with someone in time. Romantic comedies these days do not suffer simply for promoting Disney-movie romance. Most people would probably be much happier if they even had faith that this kind of bond can happen for everyone. Hollywood could even snap its audience back to reality by showing relationships that fail. Film directors would do everyone a favor, and make their romantic comedies less predictable and easier to relate to, by hiring more wholesome actresses to star in such films.



— Laura E. Donovan is a creative writing senior.

She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.


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