I have a piece up at The Atlantic today, about the new romantic comedy “New Year’s Eve”:
But there are legitimate reasons—you know, non-sexist ones—to dislike the genre. For every quality romantic comedy it produces, Hollywood churns out at least three terrible ones (though of course the same could be said of many other genres). Big-studio romantic comedies are almost always stories about upper-middle-class white people. They almost always portray straight relationships as if they’re the only kind of relationship that exists. And their screenwriters cannot bear the thought of the characters on screen being single once the ending credits role: Kate and Leopold (2001) was so desperate to bring its central couple together that it resorted to time travel to do it.
What’s more, there’s plenty to dislike about the current trend of “smorgasbord” rom coms, featuring multiple stories and protagonists. Movies like He’s Just Not That Into You (2009),Valentine’s Day, and New Year’s Eve, based on advice books or pegged to holidays, are craven and transparent money grabs. They throw dozens of thin, somewhat intertwined plot lines together into the script. And because each of those plot lines is allowed about five minutes of screen time, there’s almost no character development, which wastes the talent of the actors. Given this, many people no doubt wish that Love Actually, though it’s probably the best of the smorgasbord rom coms, had actually been the ultimate romantic comedy—as in, the last one.
You can read the rest of it here.