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Non-Review Review: Enough Said

Enough Said is a charming little romantic comedy starring Julia Louise-Dreyfuss as Eva. Eva is a divorced parent who finds herself in the relationship with another charming divorcée, navigating the difficulties of dating-after-marriage and trying to come to terms with her daughter’s impending departure to attend college. Through what another character describes as “an unbelievable coincidence”, our protagonist finds herself in a delightfully awkward romantic situation, trapped between two people very close to her.

Enough Said owes a debt to the classic romantic farce – the comedy of errors and manners – but the humour here is a lot more focused and character-driven. Once the plot becomes clear, it seems like Enough Said might devolve into a slapstick comedy about timing and awkward double entendres, but it’s to the credit of writer and director Nicole Holofcener that the film instead remains tightly focused on Eva and the people around her.

Stepping up...

Stepping up…

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Non-Review Review: Warm Bodies

Warm Bodies is a very curious film – a weird genre fusion that feels like it really shouldn’t work, but with just barely enough charm to pull it off. The movie hinges on the wonderfully crazy idea of blending zombie horror with romantic comedy. Drawing from the book of the same name, the film is light enough and fast enough that it never overstays its welcome. There are times when it overplays its hand, when it threatens to descend into sentimental nonsense, and when the two genres seem to threaten to smother one another. However, it has enough charm and wit that it never veers too far off course before correcting itself.

At its best, it demonstrates that there’s life in these two old genres yet.

Uncanny.

Uncanny.

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Non-Review Review: Hit & Run

This movie was seen as part of Movie Fest, which was as much of a joy this year as it was last year. If not moreso.

Hit & Run is just a mess. It is, like its protagonists, all over the map. It never seems to be entirely sure of what it wants to be. Is it a high-speed comedy, a road-trip adventure, or a romantic comedy about an unconventional couple? There are moments when the film seems to work, on the verge of coming together, but there are also moments where it misses the mark completely. The problem is that Dax Shepard is not quite as versatile as Dax Shepard seems to think that he is.

Tres Bell?

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Non-Review Review: Hope Springs

Hope Springs is a fairly unambitious romantic comedy that is very clearly chasing the silver dollar. Featuring two veteran performers playing a couple struggling through a mid-life crisis, Hope Springs feels like an attempt to demonstrate that the careers of romantic leads don’t necessarily end at forty. It is, on that level, quite pleasing to watch – there’s a proud sense that David Frankel is refusing to leave hum-drum romantic comedy to young actors who seem barely out of puberty. However, the problem is inherent in the premise. Hope Springsproves that romantic comedies aren’t exclusive to younger casts, but it also demonstrates tat very few of the familiar quirks, conceits and plot devices are that much more endearing when delivered by actors old enough to remember a world before mobile telephones.

Well, they’ve made their bed…

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Non-Review Review: The Five-Year Engagement

The Five-Year Engagement is the best romantic comedy of 2012 so far. Reuniting the talents of Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller, the film manages to offer a refreshingly frank and honest perspective of romantic relationships. The interactions feel more organic, the third act crisis is rooted in something more primal and relevant than some idle miscommunication and the resolution isn’t based on the notion that people can inexplicably change. Like Segel and Stoller’s superb Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Five-Year Engagement is predicated on the assumption that love must mean accepting and embracing your partner for who they are, rather than what you want them to be. It’s a little depressing that this moral feels almost subversive in this day-and-age of formulaic and generic romantic comedies, but there’s no denying that The Five-Year Engagement is head-and-shoulders above most of its competitors.

They’ll get married this year… in a pig’s eye…

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Non-Review Review: This Means War

It’s hard to find anything redeeming in McG’s This Means War, a romantic comedy that attempts to court the male demographic with promises of car chases and explosions and action sequences. However, the movie has some rather unpleasant undertones as it devolves into a competition between two male friends to see who can effectively trick a beautiful young woman into falling in love with them. Interestingly, the movie is primarily about these two guys and their relationship, with the (supposed) object of their affection serving as a glorified prop.

War and pieces...

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Non-Review Review: Stupid Crazy Love

Stupid Crazy Love suffers a bit from being a tad inconsistent, fluctuating between compelling character drama and well-observed romantic comedy. It isn’t an issue that movie fails at either of these, it just runs into a bit of bother bouncing between the two extremes. The ending might be a little trite, and a tad conventional, but the movie manages to raise some interesting ideas along the way. Still, it allows Steve Carell his best big screen appearance since The 40-Year-Old Virgin and makes for an alternatingly side-splittingly and heart-breakingly affecting movie.

Saving Ryan's Privates...

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Non-Review Review: The Change-Up

This movie was seen as part of Movie Fest, the rather wonderful film festival organise by Vincent and everybody else over at movies.ie. It was well worth attending, and I’m already looking forward to next year. Good job all.

Body swap comedies are pretty much a subgenre unto themselves. There’s a fairly standard formula, much like the conventional romantic comedy, but the success or failure of a given movie rests pretty much entirely on the execution of that formula. It’s finding the wit and energy to inject into a familiar structure, to produce an interesting and compelling result. It’s been done with considerable frequency. However, The Change-Updoesn’t really generate enough laughs consistently to make a memorable addition to this category of comedy.

Just kidding around...

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Non-Review Review: No Strings Attached

If ever there was a movie that demonstrated that you need more than a single great idea to make a good movie, I think No Strings Attached is really it. It basically takes the conventional romantic comedy and reverses the traditional gender roles that have ben reinforced for centuries. Instead of an emotionally-needy woman being paired with a commitment-phobe man, this time we see a free-and-easy lady hooking up with a guy who simply wants more. In fairness to it, it’s a nice way to distinguish the comedy conceptually from the standard rom-com template, but the problem is that it’s executed in the most mundane and half-interested fashion ever, substituting vulgar and crass jokes for actual humour and development.

Is she stringing him along?

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Putting the “Man” in Romance: Deconstructing The “Gerard Butler” Romantic Comedies

I had the misfortune of watching The Bounty Hunter last week. It was horrible, really. In fairness, I tend to have a problem with the conventional romantic comedy as it’s mass produced and shipped out to cinemas at least once a month like clockwork. A string of movies which are based on the principle that all men and women (whether they know it or not) want to settle down and get married, argue over stupid things about three quarters of the way through the film and get together again in time for the end credits. Not only are the morals of such films highly dubious, the delivery is generally just excruciating. However, something has changed within the genre in the past couple of years… and not necessarily for the better. I’ll let The Guardian sum up my position:  

I realise it’s high time we refreshed the tired tics and tropes of the kissy-kissy no-boys-allowed modern women’s picture, I just didn’t think the solution would be to take the suppressed homoeroticism of the punchy-punchy male buddy flick then slather it over the vaguely virginal values associated with most Sandra Bullock and Amanda Bynes movies.  

That about sums it up nicely, don’t you think?  

The figure on the left indicates where good ideas come from... the figure on the right indicates where most romantic comedy ideas come from... by the way, he has his back to us...

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