Does Getting Older Make You Like Romantic Comedies Less?

I saw Notting Hill a few days ago for the first time and I didn’t like it. To be fair, I was working on something on my computer at the same time so wasn’t giving it my absolute undivided attention, but I figured with a romantic comedy like Notting Hill, I probably wouldn’t need to. But maybe I actually did need to.

When I went through the online lists of everyone’s favorite romantic comedies, Notting Hill was on every list. I used to love romantic comedies but hadn’t watched many in awhile so I thought I’d get caught up this summer. Yet, everything about Notting Hill bothered me.

In a nutshell, Notting Hill is about an extremely famous actress played by Julia Roberts who walks into a bookstore in -gasp!- in Notting Hill and ends up meeting the owner of the store- a shy, very bookish (of course) and very single beta male played by Hugh Grant. They would have had a brief encounter and then would have never met again except that Hugh Grant’s character- by insane coincidence- literally runs into Julia’s character the next day and spills orange juice on her blouse, forcing her to go to his apt to change shirts. Thus begins their love story, with a first surprise kiss at his apt.

I don’t know why I found this whole tale so hard to swallow, or at least why it annoyed me so much. Many things about the movie bothered me that I don’t think would’ve bothered me in the past. The biggest issue I had was this:

Julia Roberts’ famous actress character pursued Hugh Grant’ character almost THE ENTIRE TIME. That’s why I called Hugh Grant’s character a beta male earlier- he never really took initiative to pursue her until the absolute very end. First of all, I don’t really believe this- the famous actress goes completely out of her way to pursue the bookish bookstore owner who doesn’t seem that into her? Also, I just can’t see this working in real life- is Julia going to mainly pursue him the entire relationship? Is Hugh ever going to take action? Especially if he couldn’t even take action most of the movie when a famous and funny and beautiful actress makes it ridiculously clear how into him she is. She even says one of the most famous lines in movie history to him:

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“I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her”…Swoon…

But Hugh still rejects Julia! To be fair, he’s hot. Maybe you get a pass if you’re hot. I guess he can meet anyone he wants even though he doesn’t seem to want to date and seems to prefer reading books to getting on Tinder. And it’s 1999 so he doesn’t have access to Tinder, to be fair.

But Julia is hot too. And famous. She can also presumably have anyone she wants. Maybe she only wants what she can’t have? Okay I guess I can understand that. Dammit, the ultimate quandary of women everywhere- wanting what we can’t have. Don’t we all, Julia. Don’t we all.

Also, another annoying moment occurs where Hugh’s sister suddenly announces to her family and friends that she’s getting married- even though she’s single and hasn’t been dating anybody. Everyone is shocked and no one can figure out what’s going on. But then the sister leans over and whispers to Hugh’s roommate (who has otherwise been shown in the movie as an annoying drunk nutcase who wanders outside in his underwear) that she has picked him to marry. He bravely says okay. This could be cute if it didn’t seem like the relationship would end so badly in the long run. It would start off as another case of the woman taking complete initiative and then would more than likely be that way the entire marriage…which might not last that long at that rate. Because in this case the future groom doesn’t have the ability to take care of himself never mind the ability to be in a long term relationship with another person.

Could my analysis of this movie be way too harsh? Am I just more into fairness in relationships now that I’m older? Am I cynical because of all my past relationships? Am I too aware of red flags..so now seeing them, even in romantic comedies, causes me to squirm? (and not in a good way)? Could these be the main issues I’m having with Notting Hill? …None of this actually being the fault of the movie?

Come to think of it, while I was writing this blogpost, I actually felt tempted to rewatch Notting Hill, even though I just saw it a few days ago. I remember some of the funnier moments¬†now that most of my annoyance and cynicism is out of my system. Notting Hill has been growing on me with time and a bit of distance- and I think some distance and possibly a healthy love of escapism are what’s needed for movies like this to work. You see, I really do like romantic comedies.

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Le sigh

 

 

Unfairness Ever After- Or ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding Divorce’

Tonight I just saw My Best Friend’s Wedding for the second time ever. The first time was probably back when it was in the theater, or somewhere around then. That was over 15 years ago!

I’m a big Romantic Comedy fan- chick flicks very much included. I enjoy their fluffiness and the guilty pleasure of them. Which is why I found My Best Friend’s Wedding to be very disappointing the first time I saw it. The ending was especially shocking. Spoiler Alert ahead! Stop reading if you want to watch My Best Friend’s Wedding and haven’t seen it for the last 18 years… It’s currently streaming on Netflix ūüôā

Anyway, if you’re still reading, you know the end of the movie (or don’t care if it’s spoiled). Julia Roberts doesn’t get the guy! It doesn’t feel comfortable and fluffy at the end!

Even after THE WHOLE MOVIE is a set up for Julia (Julianne in the movie) to steal the guy (her best friend Michael) away from his sudden fiance (Kimmy- who gets engaged to Michael on a whim right when they first meet), Julia doesn’t get him to be with her! Julia spends the entire film plotting to tear the engaged couple apart and …fails miserably! What??! Even though it seems like¬†Michael likes Julia and is secretly into her throughout the whole movie (there are A LOT of mixed signals from him…which I really noticed this time), at the end, when Julia FINALLY confesses her love to Michael, he’s just not that into her…even after acting like he was the whole time. He simply wants to go ahead with his planned wedding and marry Kimmy.¬†WTF?

And Julia and Michael¬†had been friends for 9 years and promised each other that if they weren’t married by 28 (!! That’s young!!), they’d get married! And they were 28! But he was marrying someone else instead..

I actually looked up “my best friend’s wedding ending” on google tonight and there are a bunch of articles going back and forth about the ending. Some people demanded a sequel where Michael and his ditzy new wife got divorced¬†within ten years…some sequel ideas even called for Julia and Kimmy to become friends and forget about Michael. Approximately no one¬†thought the marriage in My Best Friend’s Wedding was going to last. Michael was 28 and Kimmy was only 20 after all! And she dropped out of school to be with him!

However, both this time and the first time I watched the movie, I liked the ending, even though it felt somewhat unfair in Romantic Comedy world. I think the ending was ahead of its time… it didn’t pull the usual happily ever after story in the traditional sense, but may have set up an even happier life for the protagonist in a totally unforeseen way. This is true in real life. A lot of times the happiest endings come after a lot of heartbreak, are totally unforeseen, and aren’t really endings anyway….cause it’s not over till its over.

Anyway, for what it’s worth, here’s what I took away from the ending of My Best Friend’s Wedding:

Lesson 1- You don’t always end up with the guy you love. (Or the girl you love).¬†

Sometimes they’re just not that into you. Even though they seemed to be.

Lesson 2- Sometimes you’re pretty sure someone likes you, but they don’t.¬†

Mixed signals suck. Additionally, it sucks to be sure your intuition is right, but then it’s actually wrong.

Lesson 3- Sometimes the one you love goes for the most random little hot ditzy person, instead of the amazing hot you. (Or maybe you’re the amazing hot little ditzy person, and you still end up with love unrequited. Damn.)

Lesson 4. Life is unfair.

Yep. Take a number.

Lesson 5. But maybe, honestly, when the person you love just wasn’t that into you and you ended up without them, you actually dodged a bullet and are ending up on a way better path. That guy (or girl) didn’t see you for the incredible, exceptionally hot person that you are. Your loved one didn’t appreciate you! Life’s too short to pretend to be someone you’re not, so find the person who is super into you. This is a hard lesson…

Lesson 6- “There may not be marriage, and there may not be sex, but by god there will be dancing!”

(Best line of the movie.)

Life’s more than just a search for romance. Enjoy life, enjoy your awesome time here, and everything is so much better. For this moment, there may not be requited love, and there may not be total fairness, but by god there will be dancing!

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