Let’s Not Forget Men Get Broken Hearts, Too
I saw “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” over the weekend. It’s an earnest and honest comedy about a modern schlub’s efforts to get over the end of a relationship with a woman way out of his league. Jason Segel (bit player in Judd Apatow’s “Freaks and Geeks” and “Undeclared” along with “Knocked Up”) plays Peter Bretter (you know like “Brett” only bretter), a musician who writes moody television scores for crime dramas but mostly he goofs around the house waiting for his girlfriend, actress Sarah Marshall (the star of said crime drama) to come home and wonder why she was ever with him in the first place. And then one day she comes home and breaks up with him. After a few tries and trying to sleep with other women to get her out of his mind (a hysterical sequence and one that many guys will relate to) Pete decides to escape to Hawaii in order to forget Sarah only to realize that she’s vacationing at the same resort with her new vapid boyfriend.
Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times (and “Ebert and Roeper”) proclaims the movie to be one of the funniest comedies of all time. I can’t go nearly that far, it’s a bit too predictable and flawed. But I do appreciate it’s brutal honesty. Segal isn’t afraid to bare all (quite literally in one early scene featuring dudity) as his character’s heart is shredded to pieces and he tries to put it back together again. Mila Kunis is enjoyable as his new love interest, but the couple lack some real chemistry together. Jonah Hill and Paul Rudd show up as mainland transplants but are mostly wasted with few memorable jokes. Bill Hader, on the other hand, steals just about every scene he’s in. It’s a funny movie, but not gut-bustingly funny.
The movie got me thinking, the romantic comedy is a genre that is generally thought of as the woman’s genre. Men have action movies, sci-fi movies, mob movies, westerns, and the occasional stupid fart and drinking comedies, but women have laid their claim to the romantic comedy. But wait just a second ladies, us men have our romantic comedies, too. And in them we can be just as neurotic in our efforts to understand you (most often wondering why we have such a difficult time getting you into bed) as you seem to be in most traditional romantic comedies. So therefore, I submit to you loyal readers (and you must be loyal as I haven’t blogged in almost 2 months – um, sorry about that), a list of 5 films that are among my favorite entries into the romantic comedy genre.
The Sure Thing – One of my top 10 favorite movies of all time. John Cusack plays Walter “Gib” Gibson, a free spirit, closet intellectual at wool sweater northeastern college who spends most of his time dodging homework, eating pie in the hallway while his chubby roommate scores one coed after another, and trying desperately to hit on as many women as possible. Enter Allison: a repressed (re-PREHHHHH-ssed), sheltered, spoiled girl who drives Gib crazy on a cross country trip to California. This is a true love story about two opposites attracting. It’s a film that reminds us that love isn’t always at first sight and can be found in the most unlikely of people.
The 40 Year Old Virgin – The movie that created the Judd Apatow brand (and ultimately brought us “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”) still stands apart as the most heartfelt. It’s a movie about a man who just never got it off with a woman (or anyone for that matter). What’s great about this film is that it acknowledges that for most of us goofballs, dating is extremely difficult and it’s rather easy to believe that someone in their younger years might just simply give up on trying all together. But it also reminds us that anything worth having doesn’t come easy. And it’s never too late to try, especially when you meet someone really worthwhile.
High Fidelity – John Cusack is Rob Gordon, a mid-30’s, self-proclaimed pop culture “professional appreciator” who recounts the top 5 break-ups in his life all the while trying to reconcile what went wrong in his current relationship. What I like about this film is that it acknowledges that men obsess over relationships, trying to understand why some work and others do not.
She’s Having A Baby – A film sandwiched (and often forgotten) among John Hughes’ legendary mid 1980’s run of comedies that ran from “Sixteen Candles” to “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”. Kevin Bacon is Jefferson Edward Briggs (or “Jake” for brevity), a writer with dreams of writing the great American novel but gets pulled into the American Dream (wife, mortgage, and child) Christie (played by the adorable Elizabeth McGovern). Alec Baldwin is his alpha-male slimeball best friend (squint and you’ll think it’s actually William Baldwin). This film is great at reminding us Neanderthals that there is beauty in the domestic concepts of building a marriage and family and that our dreams can co-exist within those relationships.
Notting Hill – Richard Curits is one of my favorite screenwriters and he penned this clever tale about an ordinary travel bookshop owner (Hugh Grant) who has a chance encounter with a famous American movie star (Julia Roberts, in a real stretch of a role) that leads to an unlikely romance. Some may see it as a parable of the famous mingling with the unfamous, but I see it as a film about a man dating way above his “level”, that is to say dealing with breaking with silly traditions and dating someone more beautiful, more wealthy, more interesting, and seemingly having more to offer in every way. Except their relationship works because on a fundamental level, do any of those things really matter?
Women drive us wild. We spend our lives trying to understand them and it’s a difficult road. But it’s a great ride. And films that deal with our frustations in this endeavor can be really funny and touching.
That’s about it for this week. Check out those films listed above if you haven’t already. Next week I’ll be back (yes, I promise) with a preview of the Summer Movie Season along with an early review of one this summer’s most anticipated films.
-Brett Deacon thinks an all-girl action movie would kick some major ass. Especially if they were all mobsters and it took place in the Old West. And if it had aliens. He’s not asking for much, get crackin’ Hollywood!
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