This week's theme is Romantic Comedies. I'll be honest, I generally like romances more than I like romantic comedies. Sure, there are quite a few that I genuinely enjoy, but rom-coms have gotten a bad rap over the past couple of decades or so, and it's easy to see why. They always seem to play to the lowest common denominator and quite often play to "traditional" gender roles, coming off as misogynist and old-fashioned despite whatever modern concessions they may make. You'll hear a lot of people refer to the entire genre as Chick Flicks or Crappy Rom-Coms, but there is a difference between "Crappy Rom-Coms" and ACTUALLY CRAPPY rom-coms.. Despite their generally crappy nature, there are some of the latter type that are actually quite enjoyable in spite of themselves. Everyone has one or two completely awful films that they love in spite of themselves, right? So, herewith, my picks for:
Actually Crappy Romantic Comedies That I Love Anyway
|"This is not the girl scouts, this is espionage!"|
D.E.B.S. (2004, Angela Robinson) The conditions under which you see a film can count for a lot in your overall impressions of it, and such was the case for me with D.E.B.S. My best friend in college (who happened to be a lesbian) dragged me to see it, and the only knowledge I had of it was one ad in a magazine that featured four girls with guns dressed in slightly slutty schoolgirl uniforms, one of whom was Devon Aoki. So I had no idea that I was in for a campy lesbian rom-com/spy spoof with delightful cameos by Holland Taylor and Michael Clarke Duncan. And look, there's no denying that Angela Robinson's feature-length version of her short film pretty much fails as a film. But as a piece of entertainment, it more than delivers. It announces itself as a great spoof practically from the first frame, with a voiceover about a test hidden inside the SAT that determines what high school-age girls would make great spies (WTF?!?), who then get admitted to a top-secret spy university. There are tons of jokes, both eye-rollingly bad and gut-bustingly good, and the entire cast sells every one of them like their rent was past due. I love this movie just as much as Jordana Brewster's supervillain Lucy Diamond hates Australians (why, you ask? "I don't like their attitude," she deadpans PERFECTLY). Just promise me that if you watch it, you go in with expectations so low you could walk over them.
|"This is nutty... hazelnutty!"|
Simply Irresistible (1999, Mark Tarlov) Looking at any still or description of this movie is enough to let you know that it is truly, deeply crappy. For one thing, Buffy the Vampire Slayer herself has auburn hair and looks like she has forgotten what normal people look like doing just about anything. For another, the story revolves around her being an awful cook until she unwittingly brings home... WAIT FOR IT... a magic crab. Let me repeat that: A magic fucking crab turns Sarah Michelle Gellar into the amazing chef she always wanted to be since her legendary chef mother died. I could not give two shits about any of that, though, because this fucker right here is so goofily endearing in the weirdest of ways (thank GOD for Patricia Clarkson, who can make just about everything watchable). I am at a complete and utter loss as to why I love this terrible, awful, no-good, very bad film, but I do.
|"...actually, there is no worse fate than being gay and Italian!"|
Mambo Italiano (2003, Émile Gaudreault) Consider this a stand-in for the many, many crappy gay rom-coms that I have watched and loved for literally no other reason than they feature two attractive men as their central couple. This one is kind of a like a gay Italian version of My Big Fat Greek Wedding that takes place in Canada, except much, much worse than that description sounds. I don't care. It's even adorable even when it's over-the-top tacky and loud and gratingly awful (as these kind of films usually are), and it's always nice to see Paul Sorvino as a tough but eventually proud Italian papa!
BONUS PICK: The Best Romantic Comedy of the Last Ten Years
Populaire (2012, Régis Roinsard) I remember hearing about Populaire when it came out, that it was a massive crowd-pleasing success in France, so much so that it even had the chance to break out in America. Unfortunately, it came and went here with nary a peep, as so many foreign films do nowadays (remember when Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon made over $100 million? Those were the days...), which is completely unfair, because this is a freaking magical film. Taking place in 1950s Normandy, it centers on the relationship between country gal Rose Pamphyle (the adorable Déborah Francois) and her new big-city boss, Louis Echard (the swoon-worthy Romain Duris). Rose may be a terrible secretary, but she is a speed demon of a typist, and Louis decides to enter her in (and later train her for) a speed-typing competition (a fad which is apparently sweeping the nation - and the world). Impeccably designed, gorgeously scored, cleverly scripted and shot, and acted with great care, Populaire is a delight on every level. It would make for a perfect Valentine's Day movie with your loved one, paired with some champagne and bonbons. You can find it on Netflix Instant - add it to your queue now!