Preempting Our Bite Lecture for a Re-Run of a Previous Post

You have twitter, Katydidinoz, the lovelies at Fangbooks (www.fangtasticfiction.com/), and VaVeros from the Shallow Reader (shallowreader.wordpress.com/ ) to thank for this 2007 re-run on Romantic Comedies. Since then we’ve had a few rom coms–Thanks Hollywood for It’s Complicated and Easy A, however, my rant to Tinseltown remains much the same as I stated below, in green.

Do you think so too?

There’s a trend to have the hero in be a loser in film romantic comedies. For example, in Failure to Launch the guy lives with his parents. In Knocked Up the dude is an unemployed pothead. Sure, that’s funny, but it’s a gag that wears out quickly, and it makes me wonder why there are so few good romantic comedy feature films. Emphasis has been on the comedy, not the romance.


Have production companies forgotten how to make a romantic comedy?

If so, here’s a suggestion: Look back through the film vaults for examples. Remember Sabrina? How about Bringing Up Baby, It Happened One Night or The Princess Bride? Use those as blueprints. And remember, a rom com is about two people and their road to finding love. It should be witty, clever, sexy, and the circumstances of the humour should not revolve around how stupid the hero (or heroine) is. They can make stupid choices, or get into strife due to someone else’s stupidity, but for God’s sake give the man a brain. Make him appeal to the heroine and filmgoers. While slap-stick funny, a pothead is not an appealing romantic hero–is it? 

Well, is it?

How many of you girls out there really want a doobie smoker to sweep you off your feet? Do you actually dream of hooking up with a guy who lives in mom and dad’s basement or attic and think, hmm, here’s a great potential life partner. 

Are any of you are bouncing up and down shouting, meee mee?

Not getting any good screenplays, Hollywood? IS that the problem? Well here’s another heads up: There are many romantic comedy novels out there that aren’t being optioned as films.  My top picks for books with a wide audience appeal? Well, for a start,

Jenny Crusie’s Fast Women
Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ It Had To Be You and Natural Born Charmer
Rachel Gibson’s Sex Lies & Online Dating


Why those? Simple. The heroes are normal. They have jobs that will appeal to men (Private investigator, Football player, cop) while appealing to women on the hero front. These heroes aren’t stupid, they’re vicitms of circumstance and they’re grown ups. They come from various socio-economic backgrounds, just like Linus Laribee, David Huxley, Peter Warne, and Westley.

Am I projecting? Is this what I hope for my own Rom Com writing? 

Well, duuuh.

Doin’ What Comes Natural Natually

PhD research can lead you to a couple of interesting places. As you Biteyites know, I’m examining roles, representations of age, and non-traditional romance heroines. Part of what I investigate involves  applying conventions and certain constraints–the do’s and don’ts of romance–upon romance and romance heroines.

Y’all know I’m a total sucker for a romantic comedy like Bringing Up Baby. Rom Com, It’s what I write, what I read, and what I like to watch at the movies. If a rom com book doesn’t live up to my expectations, I’ll skim through it looking for the rom and the com, and if it fails to be either, I’m not likely to finish it. However, movies are different. I’ll sit through crapfests like The Bounty Hunter and The Ugly Truth waiting, believing that at some point the romance and the comedy will kick in. I watched The Ugly Truth (right up to the end credits) dismayed that the scene with the vibrating underpants never reached beyond unimaginative, cheap, 13 year old boy humour, which is pretty odd considering I’m also a total sucker for 13 year old boy fart and poop humour.

While I’m on the subject of The Ugly Truth, before I go any further, allow me a moment to digress. Since I mentioned The Bounty Hunter and The Ugly Truth as examples of doody, let me give Hollywood producers a quick head’s up. Gerard Butler. Please, for the love of sweet Mother Mary, keep him out of rom coms! You want to give the guy a love interest? Use his talent properly and put him in something passionate, sweaty, noir-ish, and hard-boiled–the way women would really appreciate seeing him.

Back to what I was saying…While I’m more likely to toss a book aside, I’ll watch a rom-com to the very end. I’m committed even if it looks like an absolute turd of a film from the start. Ever seen the Matthew Perry-Salma Hayek romantic comedy Fools Rush In? It’s a film where I expected turd and wound up with a sparkly, little brown diamond instead. Fools Rush In is a sweet little rom com, an underrated rom-com if you ask me. It goes like this:

Alex meets Isabel in Vegas. They have a one night stand. Isabel winds up preggers and they wind up getting married. As you can guess (with the lovely Latina, Salma) there winds up being a clash of cultures involved in making the marriage work.
Yes, it contains the It’d-never-work in-real-lifegirl-gets-knocked-up-after-one-night-
stand-marriage
convention, but the chemistry between the likable leads, combined with Matthew Perry’s comedic timing, make the groan-worthy cliche work. The result is a charming little movie, which

curiously fits in with my PhD–in a roundabout about way.

While researching like a good little PhDer, I came across Paperback Writer (pbackwriter.blogspot.com/2009/02/heroine-no-nos.html), a blog that touted the Ten Things your Romance Heroine Should Never Do. It says stuff like

 

Do not allow the heroine to handle condoms;
A heroine does not use swear words;

A heroine never goes to the bathroom in front of the hero.

I thought I’d hit real genre constraint gold–but that was only before I realised the blog is tongue-in-cheek. So let’s go back to on that says, ‘the heroine never goes to the bathroom in front of the hero.’ Upon reading that, Fools Rush In immediately popped into my head because the movie contains two very, very important things. First, the film has THE best romantic film line EVER:

"You’re everything I never knew I always wanted."
 

Sigh….Doesn’t that just sum up the delightful messiness of love? Anyhow, next, there’s a scene where Isabel (Salma) is on the toilet in front of Alex (Matthew). And yep, she even wipes.

AND flushes!

Well, isn’t that just how life is? Isn’t that just how love is? Fools Rush In was made in 1997 and I think we’re a little behind in the times. C’mon Oldbitey, I hear you say, ‘what the hell is the big fat point all this is leading up to?

I’m sayin’, if there are as-nature-intended potty-going scenes in a rom com made fourteen years ago, I’m betting the world is ready for as-nature-intended middle-aged heroine who cusses like a drunken stevedore and has sex scenes on the page and screen. I’m sure you are ready too.

There’s just one more thing. Hey, Hollywood! Couples Retreat? So NOT a rom com!

An Open Letter to An Anti-celebrity Celebrity, A Celebrity, and Y’all

Dear Toby Stephens,

Please be in more comedies. You are quite funny and have cracking comedic timing. If you are lacking comedy screenplays, I have one that would suit you. I’ve written it. OK, so, it’s not exactly a screenplay, it’s a novel, but it could be adapted as a screenplay. It’s an unconventional story and would win us both  laughs, awards, and stuff.

I’ve intrigued you with the ‘and stuff’ part, haven’t I?

Love, your pal,

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Oldbitey ~~~~~

 

Dear Bitey-ites,

I do not expect an answer, from Mr Stephens, but you know I know dreams, as goofy-arsed as they are, do come true. I had that big fat ridiculous dream where I pulled an Emma Thompson and won an Oscar for Best Sceenplay and Best Actress. I thanked Toby for his talent, generosity and making me look so damn good. Yes. Yes! I know it was a dream, but please, recall if you will my Glenn Tilbrook fantasy-come-true moment of 2007–Jeepers was it three years ago that I stood on stage (albeit a tiny one) and sang Genitalia of A Fool with GT– was also dream, a big fat ridiculous goofy-arsed dream, and it came to fruition. So who’s to say what will happen with Mr Stephens? We know, that is, you, Glenn, and I know we’ll do another duet (if he ever comes back here again). How dreamy is that?

Love, your pal,

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Oldbitey

And on that note…

Dear Glenn Tilbrook,

Please, when you are done with your Japan leg of the Love Hope & Strength tour, come back here. Oz misses you and I am primed to step beside you again and croon.

Maybe we could do Lost In Space this time? Although I’m not averse to doing a Squeeze song, such as Messed Around if you prefer. Come on. You know you want to. I sing well and I’m cute and stuff.

Or so I’ve been told.

Love, your pal,

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Oldbitey