The year is 2022, and romantic comedies are still a living corpse

A Hollywood landscape littered with spinoffs and sequels, and original movie ideas rarer than Halley’s Comet, took romantic comedies out of mothballs in 2022 and decided to give them a second chance.

Realizing once that the modern audience loves the old but golden cinema, the studios from Silicon Valley remembered about the light genre there, left in its good times the classics “When Harry Met Sally”, “Four Weddings and a Funeral”, “Pretty Woman”, “Bridget Jones’s Diary”.

In contrast to last year’s allocation of budgets, this year’s romantic premieres have seen more effort, and from them it can be seen that there was also a greater desire to revive the genre.

This time, the main roles were not given to people who until yesterday worked as bartenders and waiters, but to some of the biggest names in the industry, who would potentially attract an audience just by their presence in the plot.

Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson headlined “Marry Me”, Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum let themselves be felt and mishaps in “The Lost City”, Andy Garcia appeared in a new version of “Father of the Bride”, and in the fall “The Mother” of romantic comedies, Julia Roberts is back in the tropical turbulence of Ticket to Paradise.

However, their names did not help the renaissance of the genre.

The titles are unlikely to be remembered, and the only point of their existence was only to prove how false the theory that the lack of Hollywood stars was among the reasons for the collapse of the genre.

Where then is the problem? And is there a problem at all, or do romantic comedies, like westerns, once they’ve had their moment of stardom, have nothing more to offer the audience.

First of all, if romantic comedies are completely pushed to the periphery, the cinema will lose a significant part of its audience – women. And in a period in which some of the biggest studios are experiencing a financial crisis, it is not a good idea to leave a large segment like the female audience on the sidelines.

Let’s face it – there are few exceptions where women will buy a ticket to the remade Star Wars or to Marvel and DC. They prefer stories about love, about relationships, about friendship. Something light-hearted but emotional.

In this context, superhero franchises will be hard to place unlike the third installment of “Bridget Jones’s Diary” or the “Sex and the City” movies.

Not that these are the best examples of the genre, but since the bill has been poor in terms of romantic comedies, one or two well-advertised titles are enough and the salons will be overflowing with women.

In short, if the studios want to keep the female audience interested in the cinema, they will have to refresh the romantic comedies, because in their current form they are a trope that will excite a narrow circle of audiences.

But what prevents the romantic fantasy from coming to life? There are many factors, but the main ones are several.

New audience, old rules

For reasons that are unclear, the studios releasing romantic comedies are still stuck in the structural patterns of the 90s. Two hotties exchange banter, fall in love, and immediately face complications.

The pink period ends with the first problem in their way, which is either a thousand times sexier competitor of the main character, or an ex-boyfriend who appears out of nowhere with an evil plan to spoil the idyll.

It doesn’t matter – the underlying message is that men and women cannot be friends, and if someone does come down on the couple, it’s usually to drive a wedge between them. And why does he want to separate them? Just because he’s a badass.

In the climax of the already well-worn comedies, the master plan succeeds, the lovers part, but for a short time, and the scoundrel experiences catharsis by having sex with a fitter, her with a butler.

However, this formula has become tired of the audience, it passes for a cliché, and some aspects of it are offensive to the young generation Z. By endlessly repeating it, the producers will not catch many fish is it.

The success of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza, on the other hand, proved that if the script was spun in a slightly different direction, the genre could be refreshed.

Chemistry, physics and other absent subjects

Modern romantic comedies also miss another important aspect – the audience should care about the main characters. They should be excited about them, they should care whether they get together or fall apart. Today’s romantic stories do not offer them this hurricane of emotions mainly because of the choice of actors.

It’s rare anymore to see the old chemistry between the main characters in the story so that their feelings seem believable.

Think for yourself, how many people managed to believe that Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson could actually be a couple and how many got attached to the hints of a romance between Julia Roberts and George Clooney?

Photo: Forum Film Bulgaria

The redefinition of the genre

There’s a reason why the genre is called romantic comedy rather than comedy romance. The romance is supposed to predominate and the humor just for filler, but that’s not what’s offered in modern titles.

On the contrary, old jokes continue to be recycled, such as the fact that it is extremely funny when the main character pinches his penis with a zipper. Either he trips in the sand, or goes pantless in a public place, or gets drunk and throws up at the main character’s entrance.

These jokes, however, displace the raison d’ĂȘtre of romantic comedies – to push ideas about love, however unrealistic they may be.

Some of the most beloved films of all time are romantic comedies, but even in 2022, the genre continues to be sugarcoated, silly, and inconsequential. Roughly speaking – a dumb movie made for dumb people.

But in this category of films, there are more inclusive stories that can include the female part of the audience and show that no one is marginalized when it comes to good cinema.

Gone after severe depression, but remains a comedic genius


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