Rom Coms: Convincing the Audience Your Lovers Belong Together

This recent article from Billy Mernit begins with a rom com truism: “The primary challenge lies not in creating obstacles to keep the couple apart, but in convincing the audience that these two people truly do belong together.” Billy continues:

The current box office hit that you’re not supposed to like – because it’s an Adam Sandler movie – is nobody’s idea of a great romantic comedy.  In fact, due to its derivative pedigree (based on a movie based on a play based on a French play, no less), the project sounds more like the “xerox of a xerox of a copy of a movie” decried by this sobering screed that’s lately been giving Hollywood screenwriters insomnia.

So sue me, but I found parts of it to be LOL funny, despite the usual trademark Sandler homophobia, racism and misogyny, and in terms of What America’s In the Mood For right now, I totally get why it’s doing well.  It’s a tan-bodied, creamy, candy-colored bright shiny object of a movie that’s just sharp enough, at moments, to transcend its retro stupidity and revel in entertaining Guilty Pleasure silliness.  It’s also the best thing Jennifer Aniston’s done in… well, it’s nice to see her in something watchable. 

But this is not why I’m writing about – what was the name of it, again?  I simply want to point out one particular thing that the movie gets right. [Note: Big SPOILER coming up here, but if you’re worried about spoilers in an Adam Sandler comedy, I’m worried about you.] The movie, after a prologue, spends what might seem to some like an inordinate amount of time setting up the deal between Adam and Jen: he’s a successful L.A. plastic surgeon, and she’s his girl Friday, and clearly – this is where a whole lot of first act leisurely exposition and gags go by – they really enjoy working together. 

These two share a sense of humor, they have a rhythm, a wry, screwball-esque give and take; it’s fun to hang out with them because they get each other.  Even when they’re at odds, especially when they’re giving each other shit, they make a delightful pair.  And that’s why, at the later crucial turn of the plot that leads to the inevitable happy ending that you had to expect, given that they’re the stars of this romantic comedy (and all-body Brooklyn Decker, despite the trailer, is not)… you believe it: you buy that Adam would choose love over lust, and that he and Jennifer are ultimately the best fit.

Read more here.

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