The Death of the Romantic Comedy

Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert in the 1934 romantic comedy "It Happened One Night". Both won Oscars for their roles.
Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert in the 1934 romantic comedy “It Happened One Night”. Both won Oscars for their roles.

The depressing thing about the modern day motion picture is the death of the romantic comedy. This genre was always such a pleasure to watch for any film viewers who were looking for a good story and a good laugh. When we look back at the history of Hollywood we can see that many great stars really kicked off their careers with great romantic comedy roles. Would be ever forget Katharine Hepburn greatness in such screwball romantic comedies like “Bringing Up Baby” (1938)? Or the love team that was Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert in the Best Picture winning “It Happened One Night” (1934)? No, cinema never will. The sad fact is there are no more romantic comedies like this.

However, Hollywood did bring the romantic comedy to the height of its greatness in the 90s and early 2000s. Occasionally, we get a great romantic comedy (usually some are bordering into the drama genre) but nothing so great and light as the film’s we used to get. As I re-watched the 1999 gem “Notting Hill” last night, I became sad as I remembered the last few golden years of Hollywood romantic comedies. The time when Julia Roberts reigned queen. She did for a reason, Robert’s in a romantic comedies gave us such attitude and comedy that it made rom-coms hard to resist in the 90s.

Hugh Grant falls in love with a movie star Julia Roberts as the world does in "Notting Hill" (1999).
Hugh Grant falls in love with movie star Julia Roberts as the world does in “Notting Hill” (1999).

If it isn’t obvious, “Notting Hill” is obviously my favorite of her rom-com repertoire. Though debatable by many film fans, I believe that the film stays on top as one of the greatest films in 1999. Not only is it funny, but also the film has a lot of heart. Hugh Grant was just amazing in this film. And the soundtrack is stellar. And let’s not forget the hella cheesy writing…”I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.” As Hugh Grant’s character would repeat a lot in the motion picture, he would say: “classic”. And it was. Robert’s made a string of fun romantic comedies in the 1990s, which included “Pretty Woman” (1990) and “My Best Friends Wedding” (1997). Iconic.

Roberts was one of those ladies who could earn an Oscar nomination for romantic comedies. That is almost impossible in today’s Oscar race. Jennifer Lawrence in “Silver Linings Playbook” (2012)? Not a romantic comedy…

Woody Allen realsed "Annie Hall" in 1977 where leading lady Diane Keaton won her Best Actress Oscar.
Woody Allen realsed “Annie Hall” in 1977 where leading lady Diane Keaton won her Best Actress Oscar.

Speaking of rom-com Oscar nominees, we’ve got one memorable winner in Diane Keaton. No film fan would ever forget her in the title role of “Annie Hall” (1977) in which she won the Best Actress Oscar for. What many people don’t remember is Keaton was nominated in 2003 for her work in Nancy Meyer’s Hampton comedy “Something’s Gotta Give” (2003), co-starring the great Jack Nicholson. Though this role get’s a lot of heat, I think her performance there is one of the most underrated nominees in Best Actress history. It was also very refreshing.

A happy family in Nancy Meyer's "Parent Trap" (1998).
A happy family in Nancy Meyer’s “Parent Trap” (1998).

Nancy Meyer has provided us with such great romantic comedies over the years such as “Something’s Gotta Give” and the memorable “Parent Trap” (1998). “Parent Trap” is one of the greatest movies about children ever written. It’s an instant Disney classic that really shouldn’t be overlooked by film fans. Meyer hides a great romantic comedy story here with the love between leads Dennis Quaid and the late Natasha Richardson. Another great love story and stellar soundtrack here.

So what exactly happened to romantic comedies? Why did the genre lead to extinction? Not literally but…how can I explain this? To put it out plain and simple: they’re just not good anymore. As I decided to watch a rom-com last night (just for the sake of being entertained) I asked myself these questions. Why do they suck now?

The only answer I can think of is that Hollywood has realized the money making magic of these romantic comedies to a full extent. I know that they’ve probably always known the caliber romantic comedies can do to the box office but it seems that Hollywood has stopped trying to make them good. They put together certain elements and boom! They think they’ve got a winner. And though they occasionally do…money-wise. Film-wise, they’re making a big mistake. Hollywood has forgotten that they can make GOOD ROMANTIC COMEDIES. Unfortunately, I don’t think there will be another era where we will have good rom-coms again.

Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal in the famous "fake orgasm" scene in "When Harry Met Sally..." (1989)
Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal in the famous “fake orgasm” scene in “When Harry Met Sally…” (1989)

In the meantime, I’ll just pop in a great Nora Ephron movie and soak in its cheesy goodness. Which one should I watch now; the Oscar nominated “When Harry Met Sally…” (1989) or the even cornier “You’ve Got Mail” (1998)? I think I’ll go with the former. It is a romantic comedy, it’s well written and I can watch Meg Ryan fake orgasm. Fun. Better then watching Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams in something crummy.

The smile on your face makes me know that you need me. Julia and Hugh.
The smile on your face makes me know that you need me. Julia and Hugh.
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