After heartbreak, the obvious thing would be to bury your head in the sand and pretend that nothing is wrong. But at a certain point, we have to make a decision as to whether we want to move on or let that heartbreak control us.
In the 1998 rom-com, Hope Floats, Birdie Pruitt (Sandra Bullock) is a former beauty queen whose husband has just revealed on national TV that he is cheating on her. Once the divorce papers are signed, Birdie moves back to her hometown with her daughter Bernice (Mae Whitman). Facing the gossip mongers and former classmates who are loving her public downfall, she runs into an old friend. Justin Matisse (Harry Connick Jr.) has had a thing for Birdie for years and has yet to verbalize his feelings.
As they spend more time together and Birdie starts to open up, she starts to see the possibility of where this relationship could go. But before they can go from platonic to romantic, she has Bernice to consider. Will Birdie be able to date again while being the mother her daughter needs or will she remain in the cocoon of what was?
I really like this movie. It’s a classic 1990’s Sandra Bullock romantic comedy. Though we know how the story will eventually end, I find this film to be charming, entertaining, and deeper than others within the genre.
Love has a way of making us feel insecure. The question is if we have the courage to tell the one we love how we feel?
The 1987 movie, Roxanne, is a rom-com adapation of Cyrano de Bergerac. C.D. Bales (Steve Martin) is the fire chief in a small town. Known for his extraordinarily large nose, he likes to crack jokes about it. Behind the smartass one-liners are insecurity and fear of rejection. When astronomy student Roxanne (Daryl Hannah) enters his life, D.C. falls hard and fast for her.
Afraid that she will mock him, he uses newbie firefighter and pretty boy Chris (Rick Rossovich) as a conduit to express his feelings. Roxanne believes that Chris and the man behind the letters she has been receiving are one and the same. C.D. knows that he will have to be real with Roxanne, but will she feel the same?
This film is classic Steve Martin. Behind the humor is heart and a deep well of emotion that makes this classic tale feel both timeless and forever modern.
My only issue is that Hannah’s character is sexualized early on in the movie. I understand that this narrative is over a century old. The norms in 1897 are not the norms of today. I appreciate that she was given some depth as a character. But I feel like the scene in which she is appearing to be naked pushes her backward towards a typical female character whose only task is to be the love interest without having agency or a narrative of her own.
I also have to realize that the film is over 30 years old. Though Hollywood has not completely shaken off the idea of limiting women both on and off-screen, the celluloid glass ceiling has been cracked considerably since then.
The reputation of an on-screen adaptation of a beloved novel is based on the response from the fanbase. It can also be a generational thing. While the original audience may adore that version, future generations may have another opinion.
Anyone who follows this blog (or knows me), knows that I have nothing but adoration and admiration for Jane Austen. Her most famous novel, Pride and Prejudice, is literary perfection. That being said, I cannot stomach this movie. The problem is twofold. The first is that I am missing Austen’s famous sardonic wit and sarcastic observations that elevate her stories beyond the standard romantic comedy or drama. The second is that the costumes are closer to the Victorian era than the Regency era.
I get that it was made during World War II and movie-goers at the time needed a pick me up. But I wish that the creative team had not taken as many liberties as they did.
*The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).
*I apologize for not posting last week. Life got in the way and I also saw Billy Joel.
*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the William Shakespeare play Much Ado About Nothing. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the movie. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. Every serious drama needs a comedic break. Without it, the narrative could easily become emotionally heavy.
In Much Ado About Nothing, our comic relief is Dogberry. The local constable, he is responsible for the security of all who live in the area. But that does not mean that he is the most competent person for the job. Instead of leading his men and actively ensuring that all citizens and property are secure, he would rather provide the minimum amount of instructions possible and sleep on the job. Dogberry is also somewhat of a crime germophobe, preferring that his deputies catch the criminals, lest he is defiled by association.
When his men overhear that Don John is planning to use accuse Hero of cheating on her fiance, Claudio, they report what have heard. Knowing that this is his opportunity to impress his employer, Dogberry tries to explain to Leonato what has conspired. But he has both lousy timing and the inability to clearly make his case. Leonato dismisses him and prepares for the wedding that will not happen.
When Don John’s co-conspirators reveal the truth, Hero’s reputation is cleared and the criminals are brought to justice. Dogberry is honored for his work and move on with his life.
To sum it up: Dogberry is the release valve that the audience needs. Though his ability to do his job is reminiscent of the Keystone Cops, he is able to prove his worth by the end of the play. Even if we are laughing at him, knowing that the miscommunication between himself and Leonato turns this romantic comedy into a drama.
Love, in theory, should be simple. You find the right person, you settle down with them, and hopefully live happily ever after. But we all know that love is never simple.
In the 1999 film, The Bachelor (not to be confused with the reality show of the same name), James Shannon III (Chris O’Donnell) will soon be celebrating his 30th birthday. Though he has been with his girlfriend Anne Arden (Renée Zellweger) for a while, Jimmy is not quite ready to propose. When he finally gets down on on knee, it does not go as planned.
Needing space and time to think, Anne goes out of town for work. Just as she leaves, Jimmy receives an ultimatum from his recently deceased grandfather (the late Sir Peter Ustinov). Unless there is a ring on his finger by 6:05 pm on his birthday, he will receive nothing from his grandfather’s will. Scheduled to blow out the candles in 24 hours, he desperately tries to contact Anne. But she is incommunicado. Feeling desperate, Jimmy starts to contact his old girlfriends.
On a scale of 1-10, I would say that The Bachelor is 4. The plot is fairly predictable as a romantic comedy. Though O’Donnell and Zellweger have reasonably chemistry, there is nothing new or fresh about this film. The hapless male who needs a kick to the proverbial butt to prove to his significant other that he is serious about their relationship is nothing new. Its all rather generic and to be honest, boring.
When it comes to love and romance, it has been said that opposites attract. However, that does not mean that compromise and putting in the hard work to make the relationship last can be put aside.
In the 1997 romantic comedyFools Rush In, Alex Whitman (Matthew Perry) and Isabel Fuentes (Salma Hayek) are as mismatched a couple as you can get. Fate brings them together in Las Vegas. Three weeks after a one night stand, Isabel discovers that she is pregnant. Before they know it, Alex and Isabel are married. The ceremony was the easy part. Now they have to learn to live with each other and get along with their new in-laws. Which as many married couples may tell you, is a battle in and of itself.
This movie is cute. It is the type of rom-com I would watch on a day that I needed to relax and get out my head for a little while. The comedy is also helped by the cultural differences between the main characters. It would be easy to present Alex as a typical uptight suburban white guy and Isabel as a saucy and spicy Latina. While the stereotypes are there, they are merely the backbone of who Alex and Isabel are. They are given ample room to grow well beyond the expectations the audience has for who they are and where their story will go.