Flashback Friday: Someone Like You (2001)

It is easy to assume that the person you are with will be in your life forever. What happens when they leave?

In the 2001 romantic comedy Someone Like You, Jane Goodale (Ashley Judd) is living the life. She is the producer of a popular daytime tv talk show and is happily settled with Ray Brown (Greg Kinnear). Ray is the executive producer of the program. Then he dumps her.

In order to figure out what went wrong, Jane decides to do some research. In doing so, she becomes an icon and a voice for single women across the nation. Using her roommate Eddie Alden (Hugh Jackman) as a guinea pig, the results are not what she expects.

Jackman is hot in this film. I mean, smoking, mouth drooling hot.

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Now that that is over with, back to business.

Overall, the film is entertaining. The narrative hovers enough outside of the boundaries of the genre that it has a decent level of uniqueness. The problem I have is Judd’s character. She is clearly an accomplished and capable woman. But that is meaningless unless she is coupled up with someone.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Rosaline Review

Romeo and Juliet is one of the most iconic stories in human history. William Shakespeare‘s tale of love, hate, and war has been told and retold across centuries.

The new Hulu film, Rosaline, asks the following question: what happened to Romeo’s (Kyle Allen) first love, Rosaline (Kaitlyn Dever)?

After being dumped for her younger cousin, Juliet (Isabela Merced), Rosaline will do anything to get him back. Adding to her troubles is Dario (Sean Teale), the guy her father wants her to marry. He is interested in her, but she only has eyes for Romeo.

Rosaline is fun to watch and entertaining. It is an interesting twist on a chronicle that we all know. Dever is perfectly cast as the title character, bringing a new perspective on Romeo and Juliet. As she does in Ticket to Paradise, she proves that has the romantic comedy chops to revive a genre that sorely needs a kick in the figurative behind.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Rosaline is available for streaming on Hulu.

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Ticket to Paradise Movie Review

Not everyone is meant to live happily ever after. For every couple that spends their life together, there are many who have long since gone their separate ways.

In the new romantic comedy, Ticket to Paradise, David (George Clooney) and Georgia (Julia Roberts) hate each other with a passion. Divorced for years, the only thing they can agree on is their daughter Lily (Kaitlyn Dever).

A recent college graduate, Lily is on vacation to Bali with her bestie Wren (Billie Lourd) before the real world comes calling. When she meets Gede (Maxime Bouttier), their relationship goes from 0 to 60 in the blink of an eye. When Lily tells her parents that she is engaged, David and Georgia book a flight to the island. Their goal is to prevent their daughter from making the same mistake they did. The pilot behind the controls is Paul (Lucas Bravo), Georgia’s boyfriend.

This is a proper rom-com. Clooney and Roberts have a chemistry that is both undeniable and off the charts. I truly believed that their characters were once in love and are now in hate with one another. It wasn’t laugh-out-loud funny, but there were plenty of chuckles along the way.

Given what is going on in the world right now, I needed a break from reality. Ticket to Paradise is everything I could have asked for in that break.

Ticket to Paradise is presently in theaters.

Throwback Thursday: Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)

Love can make us do crazy things, as cliche as it sounds. So can divorce.

In the 2011 romantic comedy, Crazy, Stupid, Love, Emily (Julianne Moore) has told her husband, Cal (Steve Carell) that she wants a divorce. Needing a pick-me-up, Cal turns to Jacob (Ryan Gosling) to teach him to meet women at bars. While this is happening, Jacob is trying to romance (or at the very least, get into bed), Hannah (Emma Stone). Hannah is Cal and Emily’s daughter.

If this was not enough, Robbie (Jonah Bobo), Hannah’s little brother has a thing for his teenage babysitter, Jessica (Lio Tipton). Jessica, for her part, has a crush on Cal.

I like this movie. It is one of those rom-coms that manages color outside of the proverbial lines while keeping to genre standards. The cast is terrific and the story is thoroughly entertaining.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Ben and Beatriz: A Novel Book Review

Among the thousands of writers that have existed throughout history, there is only a handful who have reinvented or added to stories as we know them to be today. One of them is William Shakespeare.

Katalina Gamarra‘s new romantic comedy, Ben and Beatriz: A Novel was published last month. It is essentially Much Ado About Nothing set among a group of modern twenty-somethings. Beatriz Herrera and Ben Montgomery are as different as night and day. Beatriz is a queer, biracial Latina who can take you down a peg or two with her sharp tongue if needed. Ben Montgomery is an all-American boy who comes from a WASP 1% family whose politics couldn’t be farther from Beatriz’s.

Though they claim to hate one another, underneath that hate is an attraction that cannot be ignored. As their expectations about one another begin to dissipate, there is a question of whether they can be honest about their feelings and their future as a couple.

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I was so excited to read this book. Unfortunately, the excitement quickly turned to disappointment. The promises made by the description were not fulfilled. Though the reader is told that Beatriz is queer and trying to hide it because of the political climate, it was barely mentioned. I kept asking myself if it was just being used to pull in readers without truly exploring this part of her persona.

Though the author does a good job of balancing the original text while recreating it in our time, it cannot be overcome by the expectations that were not met.

Do I recommend it? No.

Ben and Beatriz: A Novel is available for purchase in bookstores.

Love in the Villa Movie Review

Romeo and Juliet is one of the most famous love stories in human history. William Shakespeare‘s tale of forbidden love set against a background of two warring families has touched generations of readers and romantics.

In the new Netflix romantic comedy, Love in the Villa, Julie Hutton (Kat Graham) is ready for the week-long vacation with her boyfriend to Verona, Italy. Instead, he decides that it is time for them to go their separate ways.

When Julie arrives in Italy, she discovers that the property she rented has been double booked. Charlie Fletcher (Tom Hopper) arrived at the home first and is refusing to find another place to stay. After they play a game of “top that” to force the other one out, they discover that they have a few things in common. Which of course, grows into a mutual attraction. But of course, there are barriers standing in their way.

Is it cute and charming? Yes. But it is also a little too predictable. That predictability comes from Julie’s GBF (gay best friend) and the return of both of their exes. I wish that the screenwriters would have transformed the narrative from hate to love a little sooner. It was also a bit too long. The last scene could have been cut down by a few minutes. I was almost wanting them to get together just so the movie would end.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Love in the Villa is available for streaming on Netflix.

Look Both Ways Movie Review

We never know how our decisions will impact the path we take in life. The only thing we can do is make lemonade with the lemons we have been given.

The new Netflix movie, Look Both Ways, follows Natalie (Lilli Reinhart). On the eve of her college graduation, Natalie sleeps with her friend Gabe (Danny Ramirez). At a party a few days later, she takes several pregnancy tests. The narrative then diverges into two separate stories: one in which she is pregnant, and another in which she is not pregnant.

In the scenario in which Natalie is pregnant, she stays in Texas. Co-parenting with Gabe, she does the best she can to raise their daughter and gives up her dreams in the process. In the scenario in which she is not pregnant, Natalie moves to Los Angeles with her best Cara (Aisha Dee). Working at her ideal job under Lucy (Nia Long), she starts dating Jake (David Corenswet).

This film is a sweet romantic comedy about accepting yourself and what life has thrown at you. Natalie is certainly a character that is relatable on multiple levels. She knows what she wants, but she also knows that she has to live in the real world.

What made it stand out is that Natalie lives in the real world, not some rom-com fantasy that is so fantastic that it is impossible to believe that it’s real.

Do I recommend it? Yes

Look Both Ways is available for streaming on Netflix.

The Accidental Pinup Book Review

The image that often comes to mind of a pinup model is a caucasian size 2 female wearing barely there clothing.

The new romance novel, The Accidental Pinup, by Danielle Jackson, was published last month. Cassie Harris loves being behind the camera. Her photography studio, which specializes in creating a modern version of the classic pinup, is doing well. She is ecstatic and more than eager to help her best friend, Dana to launch her lingerie line.

Cassie knows that this campaign will send her career into orbit. But it crashes to Earth before it can get off the ground. Dana is going through a difficult pregnancy and is ordered by her doctor to be on bed rest. Adding insult to injury, she is asked to be the model, not the photographer. Taking the pictures is Reid Montgomery, a professional rival with whom she has never got along with.

Though Cassie is far from the typical model (being a plus-sized African-American woman), she agrees to take Dana’s place. The problem is not what she is wearing, it is the fact that Reid will be the one taking the pictures.

As they begin to work together, their working relationship turns into something more. But a secret on Reid’s part may end both the romantic and professional relationship may end before it has a chance to begin.

This book is so good. The fact that this is Jackson’s debut novel just blows me away. I loved Cassie as a heroine. She is everything I want in a romantic comedy leading lady. I love her brain, I love her heart, and I love that she looks like many of the readers.

Though the narrative is typical, it was not super predictable. It is in fact, one of my favorite books that I have read so far this year.

It is spicy, sexy, romantic, and the perfect summer read.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

The Accidental Pinup is available wherever books are sold.

Wedding Season Movie Review

Weddings are wonderful. The coming together of two people who are ready, willing, and able to what will hopefully be a lifelong commitment is inspiring. It can also be complicated for singles, reminding them of the fact they do not have a significant other.

The new Netflix romantic comedy, Wedding Season, was released on August 4th. Asha (Pallavi Sharda) has no interest in dating or getting married anytime soon. Neither does Ravi (Suraj Sharma). That does not mean that their parents and their larger Indian community believe the same. To ward off pushy parents and nosy neighbors over the course of a summer, Asha and Ravi pretend to start dating.

As it happens with this narrative arc, Asha and Ravi genuinely fall for one another. But when truths are revealed, they will have to make a choice: go their separate ways or forgive what has previously remained unsaid.

This film is cute in a good way. It sort of reminds me of My Big Fat Greek Wedding because it both embraces and pushes off the traditional boundaries of the genre. Asha and Ravi balance each other out nicely. Asha is a Type A and Ravi is a go-with-the-flow type of person. Though the audience knows where the story is going, the predictability level is not as bad as it would seem to be.

The chemistry and believability of the lead actors as a possible couple are excellent. What makes it stand out from other stories of this nature is the world it is set in and the nature of the conflict. While both Asha and Ravi respect their families, they are trying to do their own thing in a culture that is very traditional and does not do well with change.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Wedding Season is available for streaming on Netflix.

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Flashback Friday: One Fine Day (1996)

Life is hectic. We all have jobs, maybe kids, etc. Some days it feels like we blink and the day is over before we know it.

The 1996 romantic comedy One Fine Day introduces the audience to Melanie Parker (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Jack Taylor (George Clooney). To say that Melanie and Jack have a lot on their respective plates is an understatement. In addition to their busy careers, they are both divorced with young children. Jack’s daughter, Maggie (Mae Whitman) has a penchant for wandering away from the adults who are responsible for looking after her. Melanie’s son Sammy (Alex D. Linz) likes to put things up his nose.

One busy day in New York City will bring Melanie and Jack together in ways that they never expected and force them to see someone they might have missed entirely.

As rom-coms go, this one is not bad. It’s got all of the narrative elements of the genre, but is not entirely predictable or boring. Clooney and Pfeiffer have reasonable chemistry. What makes the film for me is the daily chaos that comes with being a single parent and having to balance a job with raising your child.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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