Friday, August 22, 2014
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Love Autopsy: Reports of The Death of the Romantic Comedy are Greatly Exaggerated

In Marc Lawrence's Music & Lyrics (2007), a wryly funny rom-com with Hugh Grant as a pop has-been and Drew Barrymore as a literary never-was who collaborate on a hit song for a Shakira-like phenom, they write a song called "Love Autopsy." (It was actually written by Fountain of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger, and shoulda been a hit.)

Love Autopsy: Reports of The Death of the Romantic Comedy are Greatly Exaggerated

Drew ´n´ Hugh (Barrymore and Grant) perform a love autopsy in "Music & Lyrics," find patie nt is very much alive.
Drew 'n' Hugh (Barrymore and Grant) perform a love autopsy in "Music & Lyrics," find patie nt is very much alive.

In Marc Lawrence's Music & Lyrics (2007), a wryly funny rom-com with Hugh Grant as a pop has-been and Drew Barrymore as a literary never-was who collaborate on a hit song for a Shakira-like phenom, they write a song called "Love Autopsy." (It was actually written by Fountain of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger, and shoulda been a hit.)

I thought of it when Glenn Kenny responded to Maureen Dowd's nostalgia-infested column about how they don't make romantic comedies like they used to. (Hat tip: Joe Baltake).

The reports of the death of romantic comedy are greatly exaggerated. Of course they don't make 'em like they used to. Different stars, different times, different romantic conflicts. In their love autopsy, Dowd and unindicted co-conspirator Sam Wasson complain that today's stars are not Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. Much as I love Grant and Hepburn in Charade (and Grant and Katharine Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby), it's a fool's game to measure movies of today by the yardstick of the 1960s and 1930s.

I wouldn't be surprised if the Maureen Dowds and Sam Wassons of 2050 thought that 1990-2010 represented a golden age of romantic comedy. From Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan (You've Got Mail)  to Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore (The Wedding Singer) to Vivica A. Fox and Morris Chestnut (Two Can Play that Game), there is a wealth of  distinctive rom-com talents. The filmographies of John Cusack and Drew Barrymore are rich with defining romantic comedies. Cusack: The Sure Thing, Say AnythingGrosse Pointe Blank, High Fidelity. Barrymore: Wedding Singer, Ever After, Never Been Kissed, Fever Pitch, Music & Lyrics. 

From Woody Allen (Manhattan Murder Mystery and Vicky Cristina Barcelona) to Cameron Crowe (Say Anything, Singles, Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous)to Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love, Actually)  to Nora Ephron (You've Got Mail, Julie & Julia), to Marc Lawrence (Music & Lyrics, Two Weeks Notice) Nancy Meyers (What Women Want, Something's Gotta Give), there is a wealth of writer/directors who are deconstructing and rethinking modern romance. Among them James L. Brooks (As Good as it Gets), Albert Brooks (Defending Your Life), Lisa Cholodenko (Laurel Canyon) and Sanaa Hamri (Something New).

Does Jason Reitman's Juno count as a rom-com? Kevin Smith's Chasing Amy? Goran Dukic's Wristcutters? Bronwen Hughes' Forces of Nature? Nigel Cole's A Lot Like Love?

I think so. You? Your thoughts about Dowd's column? Romantic comedy?

Carrie Rickey Film Critic
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Carrie Rickey Film Critic
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