Will Hollywood ever get films for women right? The classic female staple, the romantic-comedy, is increasingly becoming more predictable and generic. Open up their trademark pink and white covers, and behind the pretty disguise of glitz and makeovers lurk thin plots, clichéd characters and a prominent sense of déjà-vu.
You can only imagine the writers sitting in a boardroom, spinning their rom-com roulette wheel to come up with the stories. How many more times can we watch Cameron Diaz as a single thirty-something running around New York in pursuit of ‘The One’? Are we being fed the same thing over and over? As shown through the nearly identical No Strings Attached and the new release Friends with Benefits (click the picture below), filmmakers seem to think that by putting two big name stars together and re-using a worn out plot, they can fool their audience.
Although I object to the fact that you can guess the storyline from the opening scenes, it is mainly the roles that these films offer to women that annoys me. They portray us as shallow, desperate people who need a man to make us complete. Other roles, such as Sandra Bullock in The Proposal, are monster-bosses, whilst some female leads are so two-dimensional it hurts.
There are, however, a few exceptions to the rule. In the unpredictable indie hit 500 Days of Summer, it is the male lead who pines after the less enamoured female character. Zooey Deschanel plays the only woman in Hollywood, it seems, who has not been raised on a diet of slushy romantic movies and does not believe in true love. Other films, such as Definitely Maybe and One Day attempt to change the typical structure of the girl-meets-boy genre, with mixed results.
Perhaps the poster girl for reinventing the rom-com is Kristin Wiig. Both writing and starring in the recent hit Bridesmaids, Wiig has created female characters that seem to have genuine relationships with one another. The bride-to-be Lillian (Maya Rudolph) has a relationship with Wiig’s character that is more real than the usual nondescript ‘best friends’ in rom-coms, and their friendship seems both funny and realistic. Indeed, in Bridesmaids there are a variety of female characters, from the bitchy one to the downright strange one, resulting in a refreshing and hilarious take on women’s movies.
My advice? Stick to the classics. British is usually best though, and of course, Hugh Grant and Richard Curtis did it all long before anyone else. If you must go American, try anything starring Meg Ryan, alone or with Tom Hanks, and watch the films that went first (How to Loose a Guy in Ten Days anyone?) Avoid the movies that are clearly just following the trend, as seen in the upcoming and awful looking What’s Your Number?
In the trailer for Friends with Benefits, Mila Kunis yells; “Shut up Katherine Heigl, You stupid liar” Couldn’t have put it better myself, although we will see if Kunis’ Hollywood ending reflects that line. Anyway, enough complaining, I’m off to watch Kate Hudson play a New Yorker who meets a handsome stranger with a secret…