Monday, April 24, 2006

Weekend romantic comedy roundup

I forgot to mention this morning that I've been keeping up watching rom-coms.

This weekend it was Runaway Bride, which I had thought was actually a sequel to Pretty Woman (it wasn't; just the same stars and director), and by chance I caught View from the Top on TV last night.

Runaway Bride
This was one of those movies I'd never seen but had gotten a generally bad impression of. Interesting how that happens! The power of one or two bad reviews...

What stood out to me most?
  • Incredibly fast pace, particularly in the beginning. No-nonsense. No time to think of any credibility issues.
  • Sometimes quite clunky writing, but always well-acted, which kind of made it okay (kind of). By clunky I mean there seemed to be a bit of tell instead of show.
  • Overall a pretty satisfying premise, particularly good was the suspense around will she or won't she when ... oh, you'll have to see it.
So in my books, it wasn't great, but it was okay. I'm not much of a fan of Roberts or Gere, but they are good at what they do. They fitted the roles quite nicely.

The critics somewhat pummelled it, with Rotten Tomatoes giving it an overall ranking of 45%. Phew.

Still, from the producers' point of view, who cares? This movie is the fifth top earner in the romantic comedy genre since 1979. Wow.

Unfortunately, there were no special features on the DVD - always a sign of a movie the makers find embarrassing, don't you think? - but I did find an interview with Josann McGibbon, one of the writers at The Writing Show. Very helpful, and interesting that they didn't like some of the changes made to their story.

Here's a summary of what she said:
  • Romantic comedies are pretty much a fait accomplis - the guy and the girl (or these days, whoever...) are going to get together. The story is about the journey. It's character-driven more than plot-driven.
  • There are some parts of a romantic comedy that are expected, and some that Josann finds kind of contrived and tedious - like the "betrayal moment". Hmm. My script has that kind of moment in it.
  • Tips to succeed: show really good talent, particularly with your first screenplay. Chances are very low that actual script will be made, but it will be your calling card and show what talent you have.
  • Josann works regularly with a writing partner, which is uncommon in Hollywood, but she doesn't know how she would've survived.
  • Character development comes from talking a lot about the character. That's where collaboration is helpful. I'm lucky I'm married to a patient wife, who will indulge my rhetorical questions about my characters.
  • On writing: a movie should be telling one big story, and the troublesome second act needs to move towards something, and avoid being episodic.. "and then... and then... and then...".
Very good stuff. And it's helpful for me to post it here too.

View from the Top
Dear Gwyneth Paltrow, she comes across so sweet, so it surprised me when I read Down and dirty pictures that she's a regular collaborator with the Weinstein Brothers ... 'sweet' isn't the word you think of with them. Still, that's just a book and I haven't met them... yet.

Anyway, View from the Top was a kind of comedy with Mike Myers that I'd never seen before. Mike was funny, Gwyneth was funny, Christina Applegate was funny. For mindless chill-out entertainment it was perfect.

Still, the writer in me rebelled with growing perfectionism as the end rushed onwards through some dodgy writing. It was as if the writers (or maybe this was done by director, editor, producer, I ain't pointing fingers here) got tired of the story and looked for a quick way to wind things up. Deus ex machina is good for that.

So the ending bugged me bigtime, but the rest of it was pretty entertaining.

From a writing perspective, I thought including deleted scenes in the end credits was very lazy ... but from a viewer's perspective I couldn't get enough of the slapstick, Mike Myer-esque kind of humour.

Critics obviously never really liked this one, with a Rotten Tomatometer of just 15% ... one of the few positive comments says, "Not everything about this movie worked for me, but I loved its colorful costumes..."


Box office-wise, not many people viewed View. Less than 20 million dollars worldwide. Ouch! I wonder what the DVD sales were like. Maybe that's an extra service BoxOfficeMojo should have? Hmmmm...

Anyway, I'd best get back to whatever it was I was doing. Catch you tomorrow.


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