Rom-com cynicism

On last night’s inter-continental flight, I finally made it through the perfect US-expat-in-UK movie, “The Holiday.” Brief plot summary: a cultural exchange takes place between two stereotypes (Kate Winslet as the English Rose and Cameron Diaz as the ultimate California girl) when they switch houses for two weeks to get a break from romantic troubles at home. New romances inevitably devlop.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie. I like Kate Winslet, who is rather unapologetic about her non-waif figure (for an even more blatant display of gorgeous real-woman curves, see Tony award-winning actress and Grey’s Anatomy star Sara Ramirez in her milk add). The story line with Kate Winslet’s character and an elderly neighbor in her borrowed LA neighborhood was incredibly sweet, and played to my love of 1940s classic film.

I’m less a fan of Cameron Diaz in general, and found her quite unbelievable as a sympathetic lead in this movie. (She was an awesome and utterly believable bad-girl in Ed Burns’s She’s the One.) I live in England and have never had the great pleasure of an emotionally-available man with Jude Law’s charm and good looks appearing uninvited at my place, but it makes good fodder for fantasy. However, I with my thirty-something post-divorce cynicism appear to have lost my ability to fully enjoy rom-com romps.

When Jude Law’s character declares his love for Cameron Diaz’s character less than two weeks after meeting her, I rolled my eyes and just about didn’t make it through the rest of the movie out of disgust. Even one of my all-time favorite fairy tales, Disney’s Little Mermaid, had me a bit uncomfortable a few weeks ago. I appear to have lost my ability to believe in any story line that involves “fall-in-love-and-live-happily-ever-after” plots that develop over the course of days or weeks.

Science is, of course, on my side here. It’s more-or-less universally accepted that the early stages of “falling in love” are associated with hormones that dissipate within a year or two (I quote: The romantic love state is a state of a drug-induced euphoria modulated by naturally produced dopamine in our brains. ). Actual relationships take time. Reassuringly for us pragmatists in the crowd, the concept of “falling in love” has been linked with the same brain chemistry as obsessive-compulsive disorder. Apparently the key to a happy marriage is shared housework. So, given our advanced knowledge of neurotransmitters and maps of brain activity by functional MRI, why does Hollywood perpetuate the myth of insta-love? And how sad is it for me that I can’t seem to suspend disbelief and enjoy it any more?

12 responses to “Rom-com cynicism

  1. My dear cousin,
    I think this is proof that it is time to seriously re-evaluate your life. Once you’ve lost the ability to simply lose yourself in the cinematic perfection of romantic comedies, there’s little hope for you. Next you’re going to tell me that the story line of When Harry Met Sally is unbelievable! Continue this train of thought and you’ll have to turn in your girl card. Now go watch Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail and see if you can’t regain your senses. If you must, you can substitute a Bridget Jones movie.

  2. I am so with my Mich!

    I’m not letting Aislin watch the princess movies untiul we can chat about them after.

    AND, I love Ms Winslet, she is going to play me in my bio pic!

    Huge Thumbs up for Sara too – beautiful!

  3. notfromaroundhere

    Thanks to Malia for the support on this one!

    As for my turning in my “girl card” perhaps I already have. Take the BBC “What sex is your brain” quiz at
    Apparently my brain is male! And the quiz had nothing to do with romantic comedies.

    Note also that Sleepless in Seattle is my least favorite Rom Com of all time, as discussed previously

  4. I’m a boy, and I still think that Harry-Sally is the best movie since 1975 or so. Of course, I have never seen and Star Wars, Raiders, Godfather, etc. flick yet. Lack of interest.

    I like The Onion’s story on the US initiative to create the perfect rom-com.

  5. notfromaroundhere

    A point of clarification: I adore “When Harry Met Sally” and do not consider that film in the same genre about which I was ranting here; the Harry-Sally relationship developed over the course of 12 years! The contrast with the silly fodder of “Sleepless in Seattle” (in which they don’t meet until the end of the movie and have insta-magic-love) is the real problem.

    The Onion piece “Bush Challenges America To Produce The Perfect Romantic Comedy By 2009” is here:

  6. Ok, just to re-cap, your cousin thinks you may have over-analyzed a movie and you came back with a scientific quiz to prove that you don’t think like a woman? Long story short, you’re trying to create depth where none exists purposely. Exactly the point of a romantic comedy. Not unlike many of the books you’ve talked about…… Of course none of that would ever happen. It’s a movie!

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  11. Two people meet. They hate each other. Over the course of the movie they discover they like each other. At the end, they get together.

    Which RomCom? Just about all of them.

    Form-u-la-ic. Meh.

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