Levitt Rates “The Duff” (B- On A Teen-Comedy Scale)

duff

On the surface, the plot of The Duff, follows in a long tradition of Boiler-Plate Teen comedies .  The recipe is: Take a misfit protagonist, a stuck up homecoming queen, the school jock, and sprinkle in some John Hughes teen angst  and stir.

The plot off “The Duff” is the most highly derivative teen comedy I have ever seen and, since most of these films borrow from each-other, that’s saying alot.  Here are some of the more copy-cat plot points:

The central character of the film is a social mis-fit who is just one make-over away from being attractive (in every teen flick): check

The embarrassing viral video (see “American pie”)

The pretty but dim friends (any teen comedy) check

The climactic prom scene where the jock must make a decision to choose love over social convention. (She’s All That)  Check

The cool girl’s come uppance (every teen comedy)

The central story of the film involves Bianca’s realization that she is the Duff (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) for her friend group to whom people approach who are more interested in her prettier friends. Once she realizes this less-than-profound fact, she is able to take a stronger ownership of her invisible social status:to act/dress different, confront her peers, ie get out of her comfort zone and take more risks. She quickly buddies up with jock, “Wesley Rush” who, in exchange for help with his science Class, agrees to help tutor her to confront her Duff Status and navigate through the tough social waters of high-school life ( you know,in between push-ups/making out with the homecoming queen).

Ulitmately, What makes these geek to chic teen comedies work is largely the likability/relatability of the central character. That’s where this film, for me, breaks above the average pack of this genre.  The writers make The Duff, aka Bianca Piper (played appealingly by  by Mae Whitman) a fully three dimensional character. Not too Goody-Goody, not too much of an angry outsider. She just seems real.  She’s casual and self-deprecating but also sharply critical of the people around her. Physically, Mae Whitman she reminds me as sort of a cross between Amanda Bynes and janeane Garofalo ( although with less real-life baggage than Bynes and less sardonic than Garofolo).  The writers also smatter-in plenty of witty social media references and pop culture references to keep things moving and entertaining.

But of course, “The Duff” is the most likable character in the film  The writers hardly give the other characters a fighting chance. The other actors are mostly  stock figures: pretty girls who take turns either preening or mercilessly bashing their underclassman.  The only other character who has a more singular personality is the 2nd lead of the film, The Jock/heartthrob “Wesley Rush”.  I like how the writers named a football character “Wesley Rush”. Get it? I guess the name “Scott Scrimmage” was too on the nose. The writers make him a decent guy but with raunchy streak that gives his character more depth/reality than your basic jock/good samaritan type which is pretty common in these types of films.  Less successful, though, is the odd addition of  actress  Allison Janey to play The Duff’s mother Its questionable why they cast Janney as mother since she towers above Mae and physically they barely seem part of the same species much less family members.  The film largely sidelines the talented Janney relegating her to just a sounding board for Bianca’s problems .

The film is obvious in its treatment of social groups. These types films never met a cliche’d teen niche they didn’t like/exploit.  From the original template of The Breakfast Club: you have your Jocks, criminals, nerds, wierdos etc.  Anyone who has experiences high school, knows that social groups that not very sharply delineated.  Its not like jocks or nerds telegraph their status that obviously:  “Look, I’m a jock and I can’t be seen talking to you.  Read the contract!”.  Social groups are, more often than that more varied;  weird melting pots of people who could probably and do hang equally with many different social groups.

The ending morality of the film, everybody is somebody’s duff.  We’re all nerds, blah blah is straight out of every other teen movie from John Hughes On. Not that earth-shattering.  But its still nice to see difference being embraced after the slew of body shaming/ cyber bullying that happens so frequently online and through social media these days.  Its also nice, if cliched, to see the heroine of the film achieve love and self-acceptance.  So, despite its extremely copy-cat, by the numbers plot-line and cardboard supporting characters, I liked the lead actors and some of the sharp/witty dialogue enough to give this film a B- (On a highly more generous Teen-Comedy Scale)

 

 

 

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Actors Who Can’t Do Accents

Some Film Actors like Meryl Streep are adept at playing characters with a whole range of different accents and regional dialects. However, some film actors who should be best kept nameless  but who I will now mercilessly name are best kept to their “mother tongues” because when they try to venture into changing the natural rhythms and cadences of their voices, the results are often quite painful to the human ear.

Park The Cah in Haavad Yaaad

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Having gone to school in Boston, I know that the regional accents are often subtle. I can therefore categorically say that not everyone speaks like John F. Kennedy after a visit to the dentist.  Unfortunately, I don’t think Tom Hans or Rob Morrow ever got my memo.

Sure  Charles Van Doren famously lied about getting the answers on 21 in the film Quiz Show, but I believe the more grievous crime was Rob Morrow’s ridiculously thick “bahstonian” accent in Quiz Show. Its lucky he was a lawyer and not a dialect coach. His clients would sue.

Tom Hanks is a respected actor known for versatility in comedy and drama.  Yet accents are not his strong suit.  Even Forrest Gump where he must put on a southern accent is cartoon-ish and only aided somewhat by the reality that Gump was mentally challenged so therefore  spoke in a halting and overly deliberate way.  But, Hanks bizarrely bad boston accent in “Catch Me If You Can” cannot be attributable to any inferior intellect.  In this instance, Hanks character was in complete control of all his faculties…except for speech.

2 thick accents don’t mix

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Russel Crowe is known for his intensity and dissolving into the characters he plays.  unfortunately his australian accent doesn’t always make the seamless transition.  In A Beautiful Mind or Cinderella Man  his accents it still sounds like a mix of australian/new york or australian/southern.  A mumble-mouthed jumble… a verbal concoction that savages two dialects in the process.  Maybe the more merciful way to go was to dub Crowe’s audio using another actor.

Keanu-Bad

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In the history of bad accents, Keanu Reeves should be given the gold trophy.  In the film Dracula, his accent is so bad you wish that a vampire would put an early end to his life. In the film, “Devil’s Advocate”, Keanu voices a southern accent so fowl, him and his law clients deserved death by lethal injection.  In fact, in most films Keanu seems even barely able to speak his native language, English, with any degree of fluency or meaning . When he is called on to speak, Reeves talking pattern is as awkward as any space alien or a 6 year old reading a Dick and Jane Book for the first time.

Holly Hunter- The accent from nowhere

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Holly Hunter has an eccentric sounding southern accent which she cannot shake and even sounds out of place in films in which her characters are supposed to have southern roots. Simply put,  her voice doesn’t exactly match her face.  When watching any of her films, you might always find yourself asking,  Why does this character have this weird southern accent?    So film-makers almost have to concoct a colorful backstory to explain why Holly Hunter has an eccentric southern drawl…ie her character often summered in a farm in rural Arkansas. fittingly, she Hunter was honored for an Oscar for  her work in the Piano, in a role in which she did not speak out loud.

Speak Russian?  Nyet!

malkovich

I think its safe to generalize and say that most actors cannot do a convincing Russian Accent. Inevitably, they all sound like some variation of “Boris” from the old Bullwinkle Cartoon . For instance  John Malkovich’s ridiculously over-the-top accent in “Rounders”. If he tried that voice in real life, He’d be laughed out of any self-respecting Russian Bathhouse or denied service in any restaurant in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn which served pirogis. Thankfully, in the film “Inside John Malkovich” the actor was not called upon to to illicit any  particular foreign accent. The last thing you’d want to be is trapped in his subconscious or the scene with the multiple malkovich’s all speaking in bad Russian continuously. Nyet, Definitely Nyet!

Levitt Reviews Straight Outta Compton (B+)

compton

I’ll get this out of the way early…I’m not the biggest fan of rap.  When it comes to music, I’m more of a traditionalist;  tune and melody slightly more important to me than the words wheras in rap, the opposite is largely true. So, when it came to watching “Straight Outta Compton”, I was really coming at the subject largely from a beginners perspective. Of course, I’ve heard of NWA and knew of Ice Cube largely from his movies and “Aint nothin but a G Thang” but I was largely ignorant, except in very broad strokes, of the bands history and importance to gangsta rap.  I wanted to check out the movie, though, because I usually like music biopics and this film got such universal positive praise.

Most music biopics follow a very familiar template:  clashes with dissaproving moms (do moms in movies ever approve of anything?), low-level club owners who warn the band “their kind of music will never sell”, soon early success leads to drug excess and ego clashes, and for some reason each biopic I’ve seen always features a greedy jewish band manager with a bad hairpiece.  “Straight Outta Compton” hits all these familar beats without apology but what separates this film and what stops it from being a superficial “movie of the week” is the throbbing vitality of the music itself and its unflinching portrait of the world it depicts.  NWA, the film’s focus and its main members:  Eazy E, Dr. Dre, and Ice Cube not only write and rap about their violent culture they live it.  Unlike many musicians who visit and report on injustice in songs in an “aint that just to bad” or detached coffee-house way, these guys are the ones who are getting guns flashed in their faces and thrown down on the hoods of cop cars. Much of their rhymes serve as a retaliatory gut-punches on what just happened.  The lyrics have a raw. blunt, immediacy that could not be denied by the music industry and the public at large.

The film shows the rise of NWA and the politics within the group and clashes with record producers/managers.  There are many scenes  and the groups manager, Jerry Heller played by Paul Giamatti who adopts a paternal protective image with the band and forms a special Bond with Eazy-E. I liked this relationship but felt that these scenes and much of the films middle part was a bit insular.  There are boardroom scenes and scenes noting the band’s success by showing lavish pool-side parties. But Since NWA,  was such a fan favorite, I would have preferred more scenes which showed the group interacting with the public….laughing or commiserating with fans,   or the group connecting with old people of their neighborhood.

Interestingly, in a film largely about violence and bravado, I found the film was at its most effective in moments of quiet. The scene where Dr Dre learns about his brother dieing is a standout.  The guys are allowed to take a pause and reflect on the transitory nature of life despite any momentary material/financial advantage.

As I mentioned much of the film is about the groups clash with record executives. In a fit of rage, Dr Dre is scene taking a bat to one excutive’s display of gold records.   But, the primary relationship of the film with Eazy E and his manager, Heller needed a more satisfying resolution. Despite Dre Dre and ice Cube leaving NWA because of Heller’s corruptness/skimming off the top earlier in the film,  Eazy-E stayed loyal to the the manager despite mounting evidence that Heller was cheating the band of some profits.  I think there needed to be an extra scene which showed why Eazy was so blindingly trustful or why Heller was so unnecessarily greedy to make a better payoff at the end.

I enjoyed Straight Outta Compton and found the pace of the film good and the performances first rate. (especially from O’Shea Jackson Jr. as Ice Cube who captures the sullenness, and Jason Mitchell (as Eazy E) who inhabits the films most dramatic moments.  I would have liked a scene or two about the actual writing process and the members of NWA struggling more to find their musical voice.  But, I realize that the writing/creative process is a hard nut to crack in a dramatic way on screen.  Films from everything from Barton Fink to Throw Mamma From the train have tried to depict the writing process in a competitive but ultimately unsuccessful way.  Maybe ultimately true creation is often too random and elusive to truly capture on screen.But, At least we have films like Straight Outta Compton to testify to the vibrant/ lasting end result.

 

 

Levitt Reviews Star Wars- The Force Awakens (B-)

star wars

Let me start by saying, I’ve always thought that in the world of sci-fi, Star Wars was like Star Trek’s less intelligent but more popular athletic brother.  Sure it was popular… but, Its simple good v evil and action oriented plot-lines and one note characters never had the moral heft, the complex motivations, and the scientific foundations of the Trek Universe.  Maybe its unfair of me to compare the two franchises since it is a little like apples and oranges and Trek was first a TV Show and had time to build its characters and expand its worlds from planet to planet.  The films were a little more dumbed down and action oriented But, I guess when I watched Star Wars I always found myself wanting more storyline and richer characters. Now, With all the hoopla and insane amounts of money the new Star Wars, The Force Awakens, I keep nudging myself why don’t I like this movie more? Everyone else does!

Sure, its easy to say The Force Awakens is better than the prequels but they were clearly awful films.  Horrible screenplays, terrible acting, annoying characters.  With the more straightforward plot and the addition of several of the original cast members, this new film would truly have to be a stinker to not at least somewhat please some fans.

the action scenes in this film are workmanlike but very by the numbers…hatches opening and closing just in time to save someone, ships outrunning, or outgunning their foes. The characters  meet, they avoid explosions, fire some shots, run some more. Its like your standard action film without the entertaining trash-talk with hero and villain. Too many of the films plot-points seem to occur by happenstance and the character of Kylo Ren always seems to be one step behind the heroes when, with all his force stuff etc. It should be the other way around. The acting in the film is fine, not great. Its doubtful if we were going to see glimmerings of the likes of Alec Guinness in any of the new characters. He was the gold standard in star wars acting. the character of Rey (played by Daisy Ridley) probably comes off the best displaying  her heroism and goodness in a casual, unflashy way.  One of the films strengths is the way it seamlessly blends the old casts with the new casts without a long setup or a lot of unnecessary fanfare.  The older characters, especially Han (who is given the lionshare of screen time) are played with dignity and respect to their histories.

As I watched the film I wondered about its simple treatment of good versus evil.  The Evil Empire versus The Resistance.  I can never really determine why the evil empire is so evil. The only worlds we see in Star Wars are the evil empire, the resistance, and barren wastelands of planets where people barter in stolen goods and droids. Not really sure what there is to fight over. Were told that the empire is evil and they sure sneer enough to be evil but there are no scenes of subjugation, slavery, etc . The only person darth Vader o Kylo Ren is every seen being mean to was his immediate subordinates. Its not like Darth vader ever pulled a lolipop out of kids mouth or Kylo Ren hurled an old lady down a flight of stairs in anger. We just take for granted that the empire is evil because they all wear black and don’t smile very much.

Also in Star Wars The Force awakens, Kylo Ren is seduced by the dark side. Not sure why the people in these films are never seduced by the good side of the force. Do Jedis have to work for below minimum wage or something? Why is the dark force so freaking seductive anyway?… usually the most powerful people in the dark side are ugly and have sour dispositions. Its not like there is a really hot, scantilly clad, low-maintenance Dark Lord who wants you to unsheathe your sabre—  That would be at least some incentive to turn to the dark side.

Aside from the simplistic plot and thinly drawn characters, the new Star Wars Film had some areas of promise.  The rocky relationship of Han and Leia deserved a little more fleshing out than, “We had some good times didn’t we”.  If we had a few scenes of them interacting prior to the film’s central action, it might have provided a richer motivation for the real struggle of their fallen progeny.  The character of Poe seems a worthy addition to the franchise and to carry the Solo Torch in future films and if given more screen time in the future could probably serve as a good protagonist for future outings. The character of Maz Kanata (han’s friend) is probably the wisest and most interesting of the film’s non human characters. her presence adds a wise (yoda like) sage character which is a welcome addition to the films mostly newbie cast.

To me, the film works best when it embraces the nostalgia factor: catching up with Han, Leia, Chewie ( he growls both to connote anger and frustration. what a guy!) and the droids, take a joyride on the Millenium Falcon, and let us live vicariously through those who can successfully harness the powers of the force.  I only wish the new characters had a little more emotional depth/complexity and that the action left me more excited about the future.

 

 

 

Levitt Rips Apart Classic Films

Notting Hill- Julia Roberts, she crazy!!!!!

julia

Most people who enjoy the film, “Notting Hill”like the charming bi-play between the movie star (Julia Roberts) and the commoner/befuddled travel book-shop owner, Hugh Grant.  But, if you bother to look for logic and realistic reactions (in a romcom are you crazy?!!!) it does seem that Julia Robert’s character is simply batshit crazy.  Instance 1: after grant spills coffee all over Robert’s blouse (something that normally drives celebs crazy—when their clothing is suddenly  and randomly attacked by a stranger) Roberts suddenly kisses Grant full on the lips.  Instance 2: Alec Baldwin (julia’s former lover) surprises Roberts in her Hotel Room its a little bit awkward with Hugh Grant there so Roberts, like any rational woman in the same situation, decides to… leave the country.  Instance 3:  Roberts and Grant are photographed in skimpy attire after emerging from Grant’s Notting Hill Flat so, rather than explaining/holding a press conference or simply avoiding reporters for a while, Robert’s thinks its safer/more incognito to, you guessed it, leave the country. Then, finally when Roberts realizes that she truly loves Grant, she decides to give him a token of her affection and gives him an original Marc Chagall painting.  I guess they were out of Whitman Samplers at the Drug Store.

Dreamgirls- Jamie fox’s Acting Has Left The Building

fox

 Jamie Fox is one of our most reliable actors his breakout performance in Collateral and Oscar Winning Turn in Ray show his versatility and gift at characterization.  It is astounding, then, that in a film so highly regarded for its music and acting (Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson both Oscar nominating and winning) that Fox seems to stink up the screen so much. In re-watching the film recently, I couldn’t hit upon one scene in which Fox seemed to be reacting realistically to what was around him. He grins, smirks, and stares wide-eyed at each set of circumstances like he was some random guy that just wandered onto the set off the street.  Even in the ending frame when he is supposed to be shocked to discover that Effie has a daughter and that he might be somehow connected to her birth (ya think?) his expression seems as real and genuine as Gary Coleman’s expression when he says, “Wotchu talkin’ bout Willis”.  I’m not sure why Fox sucks so bad in this film and why its never talked about in any review but I urge you to watch it again and convince me he’s not the Jar Jar Binks of Dreamgirls.

Other Things that always bothered me about other classic movies?

*Rob Morrow’s thick “bahstonian” accent in “Quiz Show” more scandalous than any cheating going on by Van Doren

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In “Good Will Hunting” why does the plagiarizing dick at the Harvard Bar tell Matt Damon’s character that he likes apples?  I know it sets up the verbal beatdown line by Damon, “I got her number, how about them apples” but the pony-tailed dick doesn’t seem the apple munching type.  I’m thinking a nutrition bar is more in his wheelhouse.

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*In Whiplash, why does the film’s protagonist, Andrew break up with Nicole, Melisssa Benoist?  I guess its to paint him as more as a drumming fanatic who doesn’t have time for romance in his life. it does seem rather abrupt in the film and Benoist’s character was the least cloying girlfriend I’ve ever seen depicted in film.  Also, she went on to be TV’s Supergirl, so I think Andrew missed the boat a bit there too.

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*Mr Holland’s Opus- Those who can’t do Teach

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Throughout the bulk of Mr Holland’s Opus, Teacher Glen Holland cannot find the time to compose a symphony which, if the story would have us believe, once completed will net him fame and riches.  Its a little hard for me to believe that in a teaching career of 30 plus years that-no matter how busy he is- the man cannot string together 10 minutes here and there (bathroom visits, waiting for a bus, getting up an extra 10 minutes early for work) to finish one piece of music but so be it.

At the tail end of the film though, the man does finally manage to complete /peform his “American Symphony” in front of a full auditorium of his most adoring students and faculty and…well, the piece just is not all that good. Its bombastic enough but very repetitive/derivative and does not exactly leave Johann Sebastian Bach quaking in his grave and I have never, outside of this film, ever heard anybody else ever using this piece of music for anything ever. They should just have ended the film with the inspiring speech about his students being his opus blah blah and perhaps had ended the film with a more classic musical composition.  So,the unintended irony I’m left with is not that Holland had a fuller life (just like in Its A Wonderful Life) because he touched people but, in actuality, that he made the correct career decision because he was an effective and inspirational teacher but a lousy, or at least un-inspiring composer.

Levitt Reviews “Creed” (3 stars)

 

rocko

As Sylvester stallone knows only too well after having to come up with 6 Rocky’ flicks, Its hard to make an original boxing film.  Even before Rocky you had films like “The Champ” and “Somebody Up There Likes Me”  which were already about underdog boxers chasing the title. in 1976 Sylvester  stallone brilliantly re-invented the genre with a more contemporary sensibility and inspirational modern score.  The first Rocky film took its time, and allowed you to get to know and appreciate all the characters. Unfortunately The newer films/sequels were like shortened Best of clip reel: workout scenes, power ballads, motivational speeches, and a victorious fist raised in the air at the end to serve as story.

Through it all, front and center in the rocky films was of course Rocky Balboa immortalized by Sly. Rocky as a character was  interesting because, in addition to boxing, he loved animals, had a thing for the mousy pet store worker down the street, had a sparring brotherly relationship with Paulie and his Loan Shark Employer, and developed a deep father/son vibe with Micky his soon-to-be trainer  He was a “neighborhood guy” a lovable lug. In essence,  The first Rocky did a lot to establish him as a character even before he put on gloves.

Sylvester Stallone is largely the hero of this new Creed film. Retired, old, and tired, Rocky has to curl his pain into words instead of a fist.  The script allows him to be in turns reflective, nostalgic, and wise in a way that his characters haven’t quite been able to tap into before because they were too busy training.  To me, the film could have been called, The trainer, and it would have been equally apt.  Stallone is the heart and soul of Creed and if Stallone doesn’t at least get an Oscar Nomination for his performance I would be very surprised.

Where the film falls down a bit for me is in the performance/writing of the film’s main character, Adonnis Creed.  The character of, Adonnis father,  Apollo Creed, was larger than life.  A brash, fast talking champ in the style of Mohammed Ali.  His son,  Adonis creed, is  unfortunately monosyllabic and dour through large stretches of the film so its hard to really build up a lot of enthusiasm for him as a character. Sure he’s bitter because his father Apollo died and he has to fight against his image in the ring but is that it, is that all he is bitter?  The film does try and humanize him a bit with a romance with a local singer but his character is both under-written and the actor himself is largely undemonstrative.  What we are left with as an audience is simply to root for Adonnis because he is a good Boxer and his father was a legend. This is not enough for me. He also has to be likable.  Its also hard to see where his true love and passion for boxing comes from because he has a corporate job and seems more of a boxing hobbyist when the film begins. also, unlike Rocky, Adonnis doesn’t have any kind of an entourage.His mom is kind of a cameo, his former boss, and would be trainer are off the screen quicker than a first round TKO. So,  He’s basically a loner.   Without a Paulie  in his world to “bust his chops a little” or an Adrienne to keep him on the straight and narrow, Adonnis just seems a little too self-involved and boring.

Aside from the limitations of the main character, however,The film is a nice, gritty, if not highly original fight film. The plot, of course, features the well worn grooves of most rocky films and throws in everything that has worked. The film even borrows liberally from the ill-advised Rocky 5 installment where Rocky trains a boxer who just “shows up” in his neighborhood because he asks. Underdog chasing the title, facing adversity, working out, etc. the  goes through the familiar beats  Of course we know that Rocky will eventually go out of retirement, acquiesce and train Adonnis.  In the wacky (one more round) Rocky Universe, who knows, its not even out of the question to assume that, if asked by Adonnis, Rocky may have even consented to put on his own moth eaten boxing trunks and step into the ring one more last time.

The film, I feel, could have touched/mirrored on one of the more interesting things about father Apollo Creed’s ultimate demise in the ring. Apollo died in the ring (in Rocky 4), not just because he was a fighter and wanted to go out  fighting but he also ventured back into the ring because of ego and nationalist sentiment.  He didn’t want the Russians (evil) to win. the Us against Them vibe of the cold war. I’m not suggesting that they have Adonis battle a member of a group like Isis  to make it relevant politically (Although that might be interesting if they were able to do it without being insensitive or cornball- no small feat) but perhaps they could have drawn a parallel to Adonis own ego and that he boxes for some larger goal: pride, equality, self-hood, or his place in society/ the world to give him a larger motivation to box other than the mere competition aspect.

Some may think it unfair for me to compare Creed with Rocky.  But with a plot so familiar to every other Rocky film, its hard not compare the new incarnation to its classier predecessors.  Throughout much of the film, Adonnis is called “Baby Creed” and must work his butt off to, stand on his own, and get out of Apollos shadow.  I think he has a bigger problem than that, to break out of Rocky’s shadow and with Sly’s previous 6 films and his charismatic presence in Creed, Rocky is still the champ for me.  But see the new Creed film for yourself and see if you agree.

Levitt Rates The RomComs

sally

There are tons of Romantic Comedies out there so I thought its high time I compile a list of the Best/almost best/and the downright worst of this entire genre. Here it is:

The Best (in no particular order)

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When Harry Met Sally- Probably the gold-standard of the genre. the one weakness is that for me Billy Crystal is, at times,  a little Shticky. Doing his stand-up nebishy personna in a couple of scenes which detracts a little from the films authenticity.

The Goodbye Girl-  snappy Neil Simon dialogue and characters which bristle and best thing yet, no obligatory best friend character to weigh down the plot.

Silver Linings Playbook-  two people united in their neurosis.  What love should be.  The drug comparison scene could have gone on a bit more.  Not sure why comedian, Chris Tucker is in the movie but…

The Graduate .kind of an incestuous as  rom-coms go but has  The father of all wedding interruption scenes at the end. Elaine Elaine! (not said in a Jerry Seinfeld voice)

Sideways- not sure if many people consider this a romcom, more of a wine country odyssey but a strong cast, a wonderfully loopy Thomas Haden Church.  Sure it’s a stretch that Virginia Madsen would be into Paul Gimatti but he’s such a good actor it almost seems credible.

Bridget Jones Diary- Yes it’s a remake of Pride and Prejudice. But a klutzy, socially awkward Rene Zelwegger is a good spin on the  Elizabeth Bennet Character. I’m surprised enterprising food execs didn’t launch a line of “Blue Soup” after the movie was released.

As Good as it gets/something’s gotta give. Kinda  interchangeable  in my book. Romcoms for the older generation Who’d have thought Jack Nicholson would make a good romantic lead.  Certainly not shelly Duvall in “The Shining”

Tootsie- Good romcom Best man in drag movie. Sorry Mrs Doubfire and Victor Victoria. the hilarious agent scene should make this film at the top of any list including a romcom.

Films That Almost Made The List

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The Owl and The Pussycat- sort of a low rent “The Goodbye Girl” (with the romantic leads sharing an apt together) with a nerdy/ likeable pre- Just Shoot Me, George Segal and the ditzy sometimes hooker Barb Streisand in probably her most likeable role. Cool score also by Blood Sweat and Tears and who wouldn’t want the sun to “Spit morning” into their face? or take in a mid-afternoon screening of “Cycle Sluts”.

Notable films that didn’t make the list and why

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Notting Hill- .  I kept thinking Julia Roberts kept over-reacting and leaving Hugh Grant/England for no good reason long periods of time.  Also whoever wrote the line, “Im also just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her” should be shot.

Pretty woman-  Okay but overrated. Hard to get the appeal of the film without Julia Roberts and Richard Gere’s attractiveness and show me a world which allows George Costanza to almost rape Julia Roberts.

Love Actually-  Edit out the stupid subplot about the English guy trying to score in a US bar whose only patrons are Supermodels (this bar isn’t listed anywhere on Zagat) and the annoying subplot with Laura Linney who experienced coitus-interruptis at the hands of her handicapped/call-dial-happy brother and you might have a bearable film here.

Horrible RomComs to avoid

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What If-  horrible, no comedy, no chemistry, lame payoff at the end.

Something borrowed- Only watch if you think its a good time to watch Ginnifer Goodwin tear up for two hours

Maid of Honor- one of the most derivative romcoms I’ve ever seen. Finding love with the best friend, a bizarrely cast best friend character (kadeem Hardison) can’t even strike an original chord with a trip to Scotland.  and as a side note, who doesn’t crash someone’s wedding on horseback?