Guilty Pleasures: Alternative Romantic Comedies
With Valentine’s Day still in the air, and more plausibly due to the fact that I worked in a video store for five years, I have an addiction to movies. Romantic comedies in particular at this time.
It’s a common side effect from years of stacking shelves and alphabetizing films in their proper genres. I can’t say no to a slightly wacky romcom. Without this guilty pleasure, would we all know and love such cult classics like Muriel’s Wedding, Saved!, and Beautiful Girls?
So if you and your loved one are looking for something to snuggle in for, might I recommend one of these recent releases?
Two Thumbs Up.
Starring Greta Gerwig (Greenberg) as Violet, a pretentious college student set out with the goal of changing people’s lives. Whether it’s dating a moron because he has blue eyes, starting a Suicide Prevention Center that uses tap dancing as therapy, or being remembered for creating a new dance trend called the ‘Sambola,’ Violet has a lot of ideas about the world. Gathering her friends, she tries to educate them with her causes and teach them about life and love.
Also starring newcomer Analeigh Tipton (Crazy, Stupid, Love; America’s Next Top Model) as the transfer student Violet takes under her wing, this film was a delightful find. Filmed in an almost vintage style, these girls who don’t fit in find a way to help each other.
When Beca (Anna Kendrick – Up in the Air; Twilight series) is forced to go to college by her dad, she befriends an odd women’s acapella group, the Barden Bellas.
While IMDBing Kendrick, I learned she actually began her acting career on the stage performing in musicals and received several awards. So singing was no new thing for this leading lady.
Also in the Barden Bellas lending huge laughs was Rebel Wilson (Bridesmaids) portraying Fat Amy, a girl who’s really good at “mermaid dancing.” And Brittany Snow (John Tucker Must Die; TV’s American Dreams) plays Chloe, the girl who gets Beca to join the Bellas.
What makes this flick a romantic comedy is the tuneage tension between rival groups, the Barden Bellas with the all boys’ Treblemakers! And it’s a hilarious one! Guys and girls will enjoy this film.
In a slightly more melancholy romance, actress and writer Zoe Kazan gives us Ruby Sparks. For all you writers out there, you’ll find this one fascinating. It’s the story of a has been writer, played by Paul Dano (Little Miss Sunshine), while starting a new piece of work, he wakes up one day to find his female lead living in his apartment. Everything he writes about her comes true.
Now that’s a dangerous power. What would you do in that situation?
Calvin (Dano) tries to balance real life with fiction, but can he tell who’s writing what? Is he writing his life or his life writing itself out?
It’s a unique story and one I think is really thought provoking. It’s told from Calvin’s point of view, but written by Kazan and I find that whole dynamic striking. Fun fact: Dano and Kazan are dating in real life, so it’s very likely this idea was a cohesive story thought up by both of them. Either way, very entertaining!
What films are on your must see list? Have you caught any of these flicks? Would you like me to alphabetize your movie collection? Leave a comment! I Luh-Huv talking about movies!
Top 10 Slightly Absurd Romantic Comedies
For those of you who tuned in around Valentine’s Day to Freshly Pressed, Funk’s House of Geekery posted their Top 10 Romantic Comedies for Geeks and I love every film they showcased! In the spirit of love and Guilty Pleasures Friday, I’m giving you my list of Top 10 Slightly Absurd, but oh so wonderful, Romantic Comedies!
10. Beautiful Girls
Back home for their high school reunion, stars Timothy Hutton, Matt Dillon, and Michael Rapaport are still trying to put their lives together. Not a one of them knows a thing about women, but they’ll spend their days trying to figure us out. The film also stars Uma Thurman, Rosie O’Donnell, Mira Sorvino, Martha Plimpton, Lauren Holly and very young Natalie Portman as the women who drive them crazy, but who they can’t live without. It’s as much a coming of age story as it is a romantic comedy, and these guys have some great lines. Plus, you know how when you go out with a group of friends to the local pub and the jukebox starts playing Sweet Caroline, and you all start to join in? Yah, I think that came from this movie.
9. Muriel’s Wedding
I can’t get enough of Toni Collette! She’s awesome in the Showtime series United States of Tara, and I loved her way back when she was Muriel Heslop. Set in Australia, Muriel is the outcast of society. Her family is full of losers, her father is a philanderer, and the only thing that makes her feel better is ABBA. But Muriel decides to change her life, run away, call herself Mariel, get a best friend played by Rachel Griffiths, and find herself a husband. This film is unconventional and awesome! I guarantee you’ve never seen a film like this one, but you’ll want to watch it again and again, even if just for the ABBA dance sequence!
8. Earth Girls Are Easy
Geena Davis is Valerie, a California girl looking for love. Jeff Goldblum, Jim Carrey, and Damon Wayans are the three aliens from outer space who crash their ship in her swimming pool. The good girl that she is, she cleans them up and befriends them, helping them make their way in the new world. Filled with 80’s hair and dress, some slightly absurd song and dance numbers, and laser light steamy scenes, this film’s got em!
An underrated and unappreciated Cher film, I have always loved this quirky romantic comedy. Mother of two, Cher is Mrs. Flax, raising her daughters, Charlotte, played by Winona Ryder, and Kate, played by Christina Ricci. Mrs. Flax goes from man to man and moves her daughters with her. Charlotte takes up extreme hobbies. Recently, she’s become obsessed with the life stories of saints and plans on becoming a nun, that is until she meets a cute boy in town. Kate is going to be an Olympic swim champion and spends her time with a stopwatch hanging out several inches underwater in the bathtub. The surprising love interest for Mrs. Flax is the local shoe salesman played by Bob Hoskins, who, with a good sense of humor, will change the lives of these women when they least expect it.
6. How to Marry A Millionaire
How can anyone say no to Betty Grable, Lauren Bacall, and Marilyn Monroe? This is my favorite Monroe film! It’s the story of three women who’ve all been jaded by love and have set their sights on millionaires to make their dreams come true. They’ll do whatever it takes to set the scene right, whether it’s modeling the latest fashions, selling and buying back all their furniture, and even dating a man who wears an eyepatch. “Not bad for a one-eyed man!” “Is that all he’s got? I thought somebody must’ve belted him!” It’s wild Betty, sultry Lauren, and naive Marilyn gold! And as for love, it may have entirely different plans for these leading ladies after all.
Pure campy satirical goodness. Jena Malone stars as Mary, a young Christian girl who does what Jesus tells her to do, including have sex with her gay boyfriend to make him all better. Alas, Mary ends up pregnant, and her gay boyfriend ends up at Mercy Camp, a home for Christian kids who’ve wandered off the path of righteousness. Mary then struggles with all she thought she believed, including her friendship with Christian Jewel elite Hilary Faye, played by Mandy Moore. The last thing Mary is looking for is love, and let’s face it, she’s in no condition to get involved. But Pastor Skip’s super cool skateboarding missionary son, Patrick, played by Patrick Fugit, really digs Mary. Co-starring delightfully handicapped Macaulay Culkin and Jewish badass Eva Amurri as Mary’s newfound friends, this film is hysterical and lovely all wrapped up in one.
4. Strictly Ballroom
Fans of Baz Luhrmann will appreciate this early film about a champion dancer who loses his star partner. Scott Hastings was a great dancer. His mother was a great dancer. His father a great dancer. But one day, his father lost it, and it cost his parents the competition. Now all hopes are riding on Scott, but there’s little time to find him a new partner. Fran is the awkward, ugly girl who practices alone but tries her hardest. A chance encounter may show the two that they’ve more to learn from one another than they ever expected. Despite the odds, they’ll show the crowds that dancing, and more importantly love, isn’t just strictly ballroom.
3. 200 Cigarettes
One of my favorite movies for its all star casting and quoteable lines! Kate Hudson, Jay Mohr, Martha Plimpton, Casey and Ben Affleck, Christina Ricci, Gabby Hoffman, Courtney Love, Paul Rudd, Janeane Garofalo, Dave Chappelle, and Elvis Costello all together in a New Year’s Eve movie where everyone is looking for love. Following different characters as they journey towards the same party, this film is a depiction of the 90’s at its finest and the games people play when they’re looking for love. This flick is a party you won’t want to miss.
2. Garden State
Maybe not all that absurd, but it is a quirky and unusual romantic comedy. Zach Braff is Andrew Largeman, home for his mother’s funeral, depressed, and without direction in his life. While sitting in the hospital waiting room he meets Sam, played by Natalie Portman, a neurotic and very unconventional girl with ideas of her own. Together, they help each other face the obstacles in life: a dead hamster, a swimming pool, a flaming arrow, as well as the past. Co-starring Peter Sarsgaard, Garden State is a movie about friendships that blossom into something more and about forgiveness as we come of age. Plus, it has a killer soundtrack!
This is my favorite feel good movie of all time. Only once have I ever finished a film, rewound it, and watched it over entirely again, and it was this movie. Audrey Tautou stars as the namesake, Amelie, a reserved French girl who takes pleasure in learning what pleases others and in helping destiny get its revenge. Filmed full of color, lively accordion music, and snapshot stories of all the characters Amelie encounters, it’s as much a love story of humankind as it is Amelie’s own fate with romance. So much of what she’s thinking can be seen in Tautou’s candid facial expressions, that though it is a foreign film and subtitles are not everyone’s cup of tea, I hardly think you can turn this one down. Indeed, you really shouldn’t.
What films would make your slightly absurd guilty pleasure list of romantic comedies?