Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Perfect Movie Viewing Snack

Okay, I admit it. I am a very susceptible person for unintentional advertisements. Case in point, I see someone walking across the quad with a soft drink in their hand, I immediately want a soft drink myself. The other day, someone in my class had Fiji water on her desk and I felt a thirst for my own Fiji water (fortunately it was nearby, in my backpack). Now, I don't always act on these cravings, but that feeling of desire has the potential to come on strong and quick. There are limitations; if I see someone eating a corn dog, I'm not going to buy myself one seeing as I don't like corn dogs. Also, this craving does not exist in restaurants. I don't really look at other people's dishes in deciding what to order.

Let's get back on track: must-have romcom snacks. Well, a soda is always good (remember, this is movie and junk food time, so it's okay to a little crazy) and I love Coke. Sometimes, we have IBC black cherry soda, also known as "liquid gold" in our house since it is so sweet and so good. While I enjoy PopSecret's Homestyle Popcorn, it can become a bit salty so I also eat PopSecret's Popcorn Light Butter. One of my sisters only eats kettle corn popcorn, you know, the sweet popcorn. Candy is also good. I adore Crunch Bunch; I know, the real name is Buncha Crunch but I have always called it Crunch Bunch and it just has a better ring to it. If you're having a movie party, extra cheesy pizza is a delicious choice. Wow, I'm making myself hungry writing this post.
Now, some warning. If you are like me, very susceptible to other people's snacks, you probably also crave the food a character on screen is eating. And I bet most of you have experienced this feeling at least once (who did not want chocolate when watching "Chocolat"? Yeah, that's what I thought). So, for the movies I have specifically blogged about, here are their counterpart snacks you might want during or after your viewing of the film. For "The Wedding Planner": M &Ms and macaroni and cheese ("It's a low budget wonder"). For "My Best Friend's Wedding": jello ("You can never be jello!). For "The Bachelor": potato chips (I like Ruffles). For "French Kiss": bread and butter or cheese and crackers ("Did you know that there are 452 official kinds of cheese in this country, isn't that amazing?"). For "While You Were Sleeping": a hot dog from a vendor (ketchup and mustard on mine). For "Only You": pasta and bread dipped in olive oil. As a side note, ever notice the product placement in romantic comedies? In EDTV, Matthew McConaughey has a Pepsi machine in his apartment. Pepsi had to outbid Coca-Cola to get that spot in the movie.

Does a Top-Grossing Romantic Comedy Equal a Worthwhile Movie?

I was searching around online for some inspiration for my next post. I quickly came upon a list of 100 top-grossing romantic comedies. Also, for those of you who may have had doubts about my experience with romcoms, I have seen 61 out of the 100 listed. Anyway, I started thinking, does a movie that makes a lot of money in the theatre necessarily mean that it is a good movie? I have seen movies in the theatre that I have liked and disliked. My purchase of a ticket automatically endorses the film, even if I hate it when I come out of the theatre (example: "The Break-Up"). Therefore, I do not think this list is a fair assessment at all of the best romantic comedies, but maybe it could serve as a list for the movies with the best trailers (I mean, "Forget Paris" made it onto the list. Although it is at # 98, that is just plain wrong). Several of the movies I have blogged about are on the list ("My Best Friend's Wedding," "While You Were Sleeping," "The Wedding Planner," "French Kiss") and some them are not.

As a big fan of romcoms, it was a big decision for me to choose the first one to blog about ("Only You") and I feel this inherently exposes my bias in that if I made a list of my top three favorite romantic comedies, "Only You" has a great chance of making that list. But, the list I will provide the link for does not have "Only You" on it because it was not a top-grossing film. Excellent movie, award-nominated actors, but just not a money-maker. So as a thought, when you select a movie to rent or go to the theatre, pick one you know nothing about. You might enjoy it and who knows, it could make your list of best movies one day.

The List

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Solution Movies for Guys Reluctant to Watch a Romantic Comedy (aka Chick Flick)

I was talking with a friend the other day and he made a great suggestion for a post: write about movies that guys would actually enjoy watching with their girlfriends. I realized my blog was lacking when none of the movies I had blogged about had been seen by him or other guy friends I surveyed. I included a movie he recommended as well as romantic comedies told from a guy's perspective. Actually, I think a good romantic comedy appeals to the maximum amount of people. For instance, take the movie, "Love Actually." I was reluctant to see it because I feared too many lead characters would take away from the movie. Also, I'm a bit weary of British humor. Still, it was an intriguing movie and the various plot lines weaved together well while still maintaining individuality in keeping the characters relatively apart until the end. It also combined the viewpoints of men and women on the topic of love, dating, and developing relationships. It was no surprise when my sister asked her guy friends and found "Love Actually" to be the most popular, hands down, with no other romcoms even coming close. In general, the romantic comedies I believe men will enjoy (although women enjoy them as well) include a sports theme, are more humorous than romantic, or possesses a male role model men can look up to. For example, in the movie, "Hitch," men can identify with the techniques or struggles in approaching that desired woman as demonstrated by the hilarious Will Smith. Women also appreciate the humor in the movie in recognizing the maneuvers used. So, to be fair, here are the more balanced romantic comedies that are not too sappy, have more humor than romance, but will be enjoyed by both genders.

1. "Hitch"- Starring Will Smith and Eva Mendes. A date doctor played by Smith finds himself in over his head when he cannot woe the woman he loves played by Mendes. This movie works really well with Smith as the suave guy with all the moves because as Smith said himself to People, "I didn't pick up as many tips as I brought. I am Hitch in my real life." Also, Kevin James acts as the most desperate client of Smith's in his failed and successful attempts of winning a rich and attractive woman from work.

2. "27 Dresses"- I love this movie. So good. I saw it twice in the theatre and laughed about as much each time. Jane (Katherine Heigl) loves weddings and has been a bridesmaid 27 times. she is secretly in love with her boss, George, who falls for Jane's sister when she visits. Jane's sister and George quickly become engaged and Jane faces the situation of helping her sister plan a wedding she wishes would not happen. Add to the mix the sarcastic Kevin (James Marsden) who is a journalist interested in Jane's tales as a bridesmaid who becomes too attached to the object of his piece. What is marriage and love all about? Jane and Kevin share their points of view in this amazing movie.

3. "Serendipity"- This is a great movie because it combines destiny with classic New York City scenes. Sara (Kate Beckinsale) meets Jonathan (John Cusack) one winter night in the city. Both feel a strong attraction to one another, but Sara thinks true love belongs in the hands of fate and if they are destined to be together, they will meet again. John grudgingly goes along with this only to embark on a chase for Sara after enduring constant reminders of that night they first met years later. This movie is told from both Sara's and John's points of view and the humorous Jeremy Piven and Molly Shannon serve as the best friends.

4. "Bedazzled"- I was dubious about this movie when I saw the cover and prohibited my sisters from watching it with me in case it did turn out to be too tawdry; however, it's a funny look at a guy, Elliot, (Brendan Fraser) who makes a deal with the devil (Elizabeth Hurley) and how he spends his seven wishes he receives in exchange of his soul. It is now actually one of our favorite romantic comedies.

5. "Fever Pitch"- A baseball movie with some romance thrown in as Lindsey (Drew Barrymore) and Ben (former SNL star Jimmy Fallon) meet, fall in love, and then Lindsey discovers his obsession with the Red Sox and feels like second fiddle.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Movie Theatres Worth a Visit

While I enjoy romantic comedies, I also enjoy simply going to the movie theatre. There is some sort of magic in the air when stepping into the theatre, finding a decent seat, inhaling the smell of buttered popcorn, and preparing yourself to forget your reality and enter the reality of those onscreen. My family and I frequent the theatre twice a month (sometimes more if there is more of a selection and sometimes less if nothing is playing). There are several unique theatres where I have seen romantic comedies and I want to share them with you. The first is the Cable Car Cinema in Providence. This is a trendy, artistic theatre located near College Hill (204 South Main St.). They make their own snacks available for purchase such as whoopie pies and brownies, along with the traditional popcorn and candy. There is even a side cafe for people to enjoy a light meal before or after the movie. I took my friend here for the first time over the summer and she loved it. Another unique theatre is the Avon Cinema in Providence on 260 Thayer St. The Avon is known for showing obscure movies and documentaries, but they make the best popcorn as they make it fresh rather than opening giant bags from the floor. They only show movies in the evenings. Check out their website for more info: North Conway Twin in North Conway, New Hampshire on 2627 White Mountain Highway is a theatre I have visited when on vacation. It has the feel of an old time movie theatre in a small town, although it is in the center of a tourist area. They also pop their own popcorn and show movies during the day and night. Finally, I have not visited this theatre in years, but the memory stands out sharp in my mind of going back in time when entering the Columbus Theatre in Providence on 270 Broadway St. I saw a movie on Napoleon and with only three other people in the audience, it was almost like having your own theatre. Glad to see they are still in business, but I am not sure if they are currently showing movies. Here is their website:
Remember, AAA members can get a discount on movie theatre tickets, but they only save you money if you use them in the evenings.

Avoid These Movies at All Costs (Not Joking)

There are some movies, well, I wish had never been made into movies. Harsh, but the truth hurts. I love good romantic comedies, not romantic comedies. There's a difference. For example, if you want to elicit an immediate groan from one of my sisters (Mary and Jen) or myself, simply mention the title, "Forget Paris." Groan (in my mind). As we have all agreed, that is a movie we want to forget. Annoying characters, dragging plot line, and just plain not funny. And we even gave the movie a chance by watching it the whole way through, as movies should not be judged on their beginnings. Still, the movie was a flop. I hope it was nominated for a Razzie. Seriously, we were both grateful when the movie ended and angry that it was so bad. And then there's the disappointment known as "The Break-Up." I really thought it would be good, looked forward to it coming to the theatres, and then two great actors (Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn) did not deliver laughs or romance for me. For some reason, my mom likes this movie and she is not a big romantic comedy fan, so maybe there is a movie for everyone out there. Other bad flicks are:

"Bewitched" : Nicole Kidman was not believable as a witch, wasn't likable, and Will Ferrell's cocky attitude was a turn-off and not humorous

"The Wedding Date": this movie was kind of weird, barely anything memorable about it, plot a little shallow for this day and age, and plot was also poorly developed

"You've Got Mail": ugh, someone was trying to recreate the magic of "Sleepless in Seattle." You can't just recreate that kind of magic by throwing together the same two leads. You didn't even include a Jonah. I know what they were thinking. They were thinking, "Yeah, it'll be a modern 'Sleepless in Seattle' and we'll reunite Ryan and Hanks. Viewers will love it." This viewer did not love it. It was very slow, dragged on, and I think it could have had more humor

"Monster-In-Law" : I like J.Lo, I blogged about "The Wedding Planner," but this movie just wasn't funny with Jane Fonda going ballistic behind the characters' backs all the time. And that male lead, Micheal Vartan, he's not dependable enough. Liked him in "Never Been Kissed." Did not like him in "It Had to Be You", which is another clunker. Note to self, do not rent a no-name romantic comedy unless the plot looks really, really interesting.

Now, this next movie is very debatable on whether it falls into good or bad romantic comedies. My sisters and I, frequent viewers of the romcom, are still split on the adjective to attribute to this movie. If you want a challenge in deciding which category it falls under, you can rent it yourself. The title: "Forces of Nature." Very random and quick paced movie with Sandra Bullock playing a let loose and go with the flow character who must travel (due to coincidences and problems with transportation) with straight-laced and about to be married Ben Affleck .

Tagline: He went from the eye of the storm, into the arms of a hurricane.
(I know, the first tagline that is kind of confusing. All the more appropriate for this movie and post).

Favorite lines:

Sarah: I've got your back.
Ben: What are we, in mob squad?

Travel guide: You said you were a doctor. We checked. You're not listed anywhere in New York, unless you're a veterinarian.
Ben: All of God's creatures are welcome in my office.

Radio playing: And if you can't be with the one you love, honey, love the one you're with, love the one you're with...

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Make an Appointment with "The Wedding Planner"

"The Wedding Planner"

Tagline: A romantic comedy about love, destiny, and other events you just can't plan for.

Jennifer Lopez plays the part of the organized, always proper wedding planner: Mary. Although her father is always pushing her to get married herself, Mary prefers helping others toward the big day rather than focusing on her own love life. Mary then meets Steve, a doctor who saves her from getting hit by a runaway garbage bin. Steve (Matthew McConaughey) is a smooth, but kind man whom Mary instantly becomes attracted to. At the wedding firm, Mary gets assigned the biggest wedding account of her career, an up and coming business entrepreneur, Fran, and her fiance, the same Dr. Steve who saved Mary. How Mary will handle planning a wedding that could boost her career while seeing the man she fell for walk closer to the alter is anybody's guess. Throw in a lovable Italian guy, Massimo, who Mary's father wants her to marry, and it only doubles the humor of this movie.
Some people knock J. Lo for trying her hand at acting, but I think she did a fantastic job in this movie. Her torn expressions between what she wants and trying to please everyone at the same time are very believable. The spark between her and McConaughey is great with their constant banter back and forth and sharp jabs all in the name of fun. What makes this movie even better is that Fran is a likable character. Instead of portraying her as a mean woman who is completely wrong for Steve, the script writer actually created a real character who is not one-dimensional. And Massimo, the name says it all. He is just a fun-loving, sincere, albeit misdirected guy who is head over heels for Lopez, who simply cannot stand his presence. He even steals a couple scenes when placed next to McConaughey because you never know what Massimo will do or say. In one scene, Fran's parents are driving in a limo, followed by Steve, Fran, and Mary in a jeep, and in another mode of transportation (I don't want to give it away) is Massimo and the sound effects that go along with this scene are hilarious, although Massimo's takes the cake. See this movie if you enjoy hearing some of the back details in organizing a wedding or ever found your parents trying to fix you up. Also, I love movies so much, I have designated not only my favorite movies, but my favorite movie scenes. I know, a little much, but this way I can have a fav. movie scene that is not necessarily in my favorite movie. Anyway, a favorite movie scene of mine is in this movie when McConaughey and Lopez are in a ballroom dancing class together. Don't ask, just rent the movie.

Favorite Lines:

Mary: You know, those who can't do, teach? Well, those who can't wed, plan.

Mary: You don't get it. The groom is the doctor. The doctor is the groom.
Penny: No!
Mary: Yes!

Steve: We'll let the women-I mean, the brides-to-be- do their thing.
Massimo: Yes, let's do the manly bonding.

Fran: Whatever happened to that guy, Mary? The one you couldn't stop smiling about?
(Steve looks at Mary in rear view mirror) Mary: Well, Fran, it turned out he was the groom for one of the weddings I'm planning.
Fran: No! That's disgusting. I'm glad I'm not a single gal with those creeps running around.
Mary: Yes, Fran. You sure are the lucky one.

Dance teacher: (referring to Mary and Steve) Yes, these two have it. They know what it takes!

Steve: Fran's great... But what if what I think is great, really is great, but it's not as great, as something greater?

Do Romantic Comedies Have a Formula?

2 attractive and charismatic people + 2 cups of humor + 1 happy ending = Romantic Comedy

Often times romantic comedies earn a bad reputation for being formulaic or too predictable. One formula is girl meets right guy, but she is with the wrong guy, and the movie follows her realization that she must leave the wrong guy to get together with the right guy. This formula could go in reverse as well with a guy choosing between two girls. Of course, these movies might end with a wedding or at least a kiss between the two leads. Now, I don't think formula is a bad way to construct a movie at all as long as the production puts a fresh twist on it and employs believable actors. The thing with all movies is the viewer's willing suspension of disbelief in order to enjoy a movie. I don't think an action movie where the convict manages to outmaneuver the cops with his quick wits is any more believable than two strangers falling in love at first sight. You have to abandon reality for a few hours to really dive into the plot line of any movie. If you think about it, most events and decisions in our lives rely on formulas. The planning of a birthday party follows the formula of buying food, arranging decorations, and making a guest list. For someone else, a decision she/he makes may be based on the pros and cons of the consequences, thus relying on the formula of possible repercussions.
Even if most romantic comedies abide by a Hollywood formula, isn't it nice to have situations and characters end up together and happy, something we cannot always count on in reality? As long as you know a movie's projections for life remain in the theatre, I see no problem with enjoying impossibly sappy moments or cheering for the couple when they finally see how they belong together in the end.

For a list of specific elements in the recipe for concocting a romantic comedy and the common errors as well in writing one, check out this website: