RomCom Thursday: About Time

I went to see About Time, the new film from Love Actually writer-director Richard Curtis, by myself at 4 on a Monday afternoon. It looked like a nice romcom, and I had nothing better to do. I am not ashamed.

About Time stars an actors whose parents thought it would be a good idea to name him Domnhall Gleason as an awkward young man who has very little luck with the ladies. One day, his father–last seen singing a #1 Christmas hit in Love Actually–tells him that the men of the house can time travel. So good ol’ Domnhall (I think his character had a slightly more reasonable name) uses his new gift to seduce brunette-version Rachel McAdams, and in a matter of a few scenes, marry her.

The rest of the movie is dedicated to Domnhall’s family relationships. His free-spirited sister is stuck with a bad boyfriend and gets boozy; Rachel pops out a child or three; and dear old dad is getting older. The film actually handles these various subplots quite well (the son-dad one is the focus) but you can’t help but feel a little duped. At no point in the final act does Regina and Domnhall’s relationship hit a near-terminal obstacle that can only be resolved by a Spandau Ballet-backed kiss.

Even so, there are plenty of crowd-pleasing tearjerker moments. They may not occur in the context you were expecting them to, but they’re enough to justify your two-hour time commitment. Wait for About Time to hit video, and then bust it out on a dreary winter break evening. It’ll do the trick.

RomCom Thursday: ‘(500) Days of Summer’

MASTURBATIONFODDER So, you wanna talk rom-coms? You can have your When Harry Met Sally, your Love Actually… you can even have Katherine Heigl’s entire ouvre (except Knocked Up, obviously—who do you think I am?) All I need is (500) Days of Summer.

(500) Days is that rare rom-com made by men, (mostly) for men. This audience breakdown stems at least partly from accusations that Summer fits the manic pixie dream girl archetype and therefore represents an unfair depiction of women by the filmmakers. I would push back by arguing that we are intentionally shown Summer not as a complete person, but as a manifestation of the perfect girl in Tom’s mind. In other words, we see Summer as a caricature because she is, in fact, a caricature to the protagonist and yadda yadda yadda. Whatever. I could write a MCM essay on this, but it is neither the time nor place. (Nor will it ever be, MCM department. Never again.)

One disclaimer before we go any further: there will be spoilers. And realistically, this will be far more interesting if you’ve seen the movie.

Okay, very well. I hereby present my five favorite moments out of all five hundred days.

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RomCom Thursday: Submarine

After making some controversial arguments about When Harry Met Sally and Love Actually, it was time to tone back RomCom Thursday, at least for one week. Enter Submarine, a small British coming-of-age romcom released in 2010. It stars a bunch of people you’ve never heard of (unless you’re into highbrow British film, in which case you probably know Sally Hawkins, who plays the protagonist’s mom), and is directed by that guy who didn’t really make sense on The Watch poster.

Guess which of these guys directed Submarine?

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RomCom Thursday: Love Actually

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In our BlogDH staff meeting last Sunday, David pitched that he’d be writing his RomCom Thursday post on Love Actually. The majority of our staff lit up with excitement, but Ana was skeptical, especially after having read David’s piece on When Harry Met Sally last week and vocally disagreeing with his concerns with the rom-com. As Ana expected, David went on to explain that he hated Love Actually. The two decided to duke it out and go head-to-head over Love Actually on the site for your reading pleasure. Enjoy. 

David: Any proper post-2009 discussion of Love Actually must begin by mentioning Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve, the American offspring of the UK box office success. These films, though perhaps less beloved, are peers to Love Actually in box office success (actually, V-Day was doubly more successful than the other two). And of course, the American movies ripped their entire structure and premise from Love Actually. But are they all that discernibly worse?

Certainly, I am not qualified to answer the question—I’ve seen neither Valentine’s Day nor New Year’s Eve. But I’m inclined to respond with another question—is it possible they could be that much worse? Because Love Actually is a slog. The Rotten Tomatoes consensus for Valentine’s Day—“Eager to please and stuffed with stars, Valentine’s Day squanders its promise with a frantic, episodic plot and an abundance of rom-com cliches”—could easily swap in “Love Actually” for “Valentine’s Day” and read just as well.

What does Love Actually actually offer that’s special? Continue Reading

RomCom Thursday: When Harry Met Sally

They fell in love. Obviously.

Every week this year, my roommate Reid and I plan to watch a romantic comedy. We do this partly because we like to sit on a bed together and snuggle, but mostly because romantic comedies are fun and remind us that maybe some day we will sensuously and soberly kiss a girl and feel good about it. Each week, I’ll report back to you on the quality of the movie, using a highly sophisticated algorithm to gauge its worth. Let’s begin.

This week: When Harry Met Sally

It seemed fitting to begin this beautiful new weekly tradition with perhaps the staple of the genre, When Harry Met Sally. The film has all the ingredients for success: post-Princess Bride/pre-Rumor Has It… Rob Reiner; pre-Botox Billy Crystal; super-realistic fake orgasms… like I said, all the fucking ingredients. Roommate Reid had never seen it, and I hadn’t seen it in a long enough time that I felt it was permissible to rewatch, so we popped it on the ol’ YouTube (full version’s on there free, go figure), and pressed play.

We first meet Harry and Sally as they leave on a road trip from UChicago to New York. It’s not super clear what either of them is doing there, but it seems that maybe they are both students and maybe they just graduated. Sally is Harry’s girlfriend’s friend. They start driving, and they hate each other. Or at least Sally hates Harry. She drops him off in New York, they bid each other a good life, and they walk away, never to meet again. Ha! Yeah right. [Semi-spoilers in the next paragraph.]

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