Baby Boom Is Our Aesthetic

If Baby Boom (1987) isn’t on your pre-Valentine’s Day rom-com lineup, it should be. It is the romantic comedy for cozy, wintery-but-not-Christmas vibes. First of all, it’s a Nancy Meyers flick so you know the kitchen’s gonna be on point. Second, it’s from 1987 and lovingly skewers the aspirational yuppies of the era – including a wholesome, organic baby food business that would STILL draw the devotion of upper-class yummy mummies today. Third, it has all of the romcom features you’ve come to know and love: a career woman who doesn’t have time for love! Unexpectedly becoming the custodian of a baby! A handsome man with a romcom job! A charming old farmhouse with problems! I am the same age as Baby Elizabeth, so the sweet pastel baby clothes are like looking into an old family album. For some reason Baby Boom seldom comes up in conversation about ’80s romcoms, but give it a watch or rewatch … it just might be your February romcom aesthetic, too.

The opening new segment

Women have jobs! They’re doctors AND lawyers! Ladies having it all! It’s SO ’80s. The higher the shoulder pads, the more cushion busting through the glass ceiling?

J.C. Wiatt (Diane Keaton) works 70-80 hours a week. I’d rather be middle-class.

J.C.’s menswear-y satin robe and tortoiseshell glasses

It’s like she might get called to a board meeting pajama party and she dressed for it just in case.

Spoiler: her robe gets more cozy when she inherits a baby and moves to New England

Elizabeth’s  and J.C.’s “Inheriting A Baby Outfits”

J.C. inherits a baby, which is truly my dream scenario – not having to be pregnant, go through all the steps of fostering or adoption, or make an affirmative decision about whether or not I want a baby. Elizabeth (Kristina and Michelle Kennedy) wears a classic baby coat and hat and J.C. wears my favorite of her businesswear outfits, with a floppy bow, Peter Pan collar and oversized belted jacket that has almost Edwardian vibes. The shoulderpad/belt combo makes her waist look tiny, so that’s why people used to do that. She changes back into it at the end to turn down the offer to buy her baby food company, because it’s her main outfit to do important things in.

Another great one. When did we stop wearing brooches?

P.S., I get that J.C. has never held a baby before, but she has presumably held an object before and this isn’t how you do that, either.

By the way, J.C. name-drops two local-for-me companies, reminding me of how awesome my city was doing in the ’80s, comparatively.

Elizabeth …. MUDGE?!

Elizabeth almost gets adopted by two dustbowl people who come straight out of the Fake Annie’s Parents lineup in the Warbucks mansion. J.C. can’t do it. Guess she has time for love after all.

These Spiky Moms

These moms are all live-action versions of Angelica’s mom from Rugrats. They go on at length about all of the activities their toddlers are enrolled in and the extensive intellectual standards their 3-year-olds have met. Hey baby boomers, if you don’t like millennials just remember that you made us this way.

Hadleyville, In General

J.C. and Elizabeth arrive in town during the fall because Nancy Meyers knows what’s up. There’s a general store and a church, and it looks like a living history museum.

I love that J.C.’s plan for what they’ll do in New England is “get into quilts,” which should be timeless but feels very 80s Businesswoman Who Has Had It.

J.C.’s Yellow Farmhouse, Exterior

J.C. buys a dollhouse-looking yellow clapboard farmhouse. I want it. It’s cheerful and sweet with tasteful landscaping. There are window boxes and real shutters! However, the plumbing is shot and will cost $7,000-8,000 which feels steep for 30 years ago? For reference I recently repiped only my basement (copper, because go big or go home) and it was maybe like $1,500. Oh, and she also needs a new roof and well. But it looks so nicely-maintained?

It’s even cuter in spring because this house was made to have tulips and rabbits around.

As usual, our __ Is Our Aesthetic posts feature movies with absolutely delightful houses. That’s why images of the Baby Boom house will take you to the Hooked On Houses post for this film. It’s one of my favorite blogs and they do a great job highlighting some of the most charming homes in TV and film.

J.C.’s House During The Snowstorm

Living in a snowy city, sometimes it takes seeing it onscreen to remember how pretty it is.

The Richies From NY

Some rich people go to the local general store and can’t get enough of the authentic boots, plaid shirts, and baby food that J.C. made. They’re exactly like the 2018 version of yuppies, honestly.

The whole movie feels really modern because the home business is so familiar today — but in a time before Pinterest/Etsy moms and Whole Foods in every city, J.C. was seriously cutting edge. When I was watching I was reminded of a later Nancy Meyers film, The Intern, and apparently that was no mistake. The kitchen from The Intern even echoes the muted blue cabinets from Baby Boom!

The Hadleyville maple festival

This small-town maple festival is exactly how I want my parties. All the ladies wear big Sloane Ranger dresses, there are twinkling lights, and everyone just kind of talks and has snacks. There’s a mural with a barn and some geese on it. Nobody’s suit fits right. Get into it.

J.C.’s Nancy Meyers Kitchen

Nancy was still new to the charming romcom kitchen game in 1987, but all her talent was there from the start. Vintage-style fridge, exposed ceiling beams, baskets, fireplace and clapboard. The cabinets are painted the exact powdery blue I keep seeing in chalk paint now. Windows everywhere. There’s enough space for a work table, an eating table, a couch, hutch and a rocking chair, plus space to tap dance around all of them if you’re so inclined.  The cabinet fronts are fitted with gingham. J.C. and the handsome vet have their first kiss in the kitchen because all any woman wants is to have a first kiss in a Nancy Meyers kitchen.

The Yellow Farmhouse, Interior

First of all, I love how the woodwork isn’t perfectly freshly painted, so it looks like someone actually has lived there a long time. Second, check out these wood floors, comfy Laura Ashley-looking furniture, natural light, and worn-in looking antiques.

 

 

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Where Are They Now: Little Boys With Bowl Cuts From 90s RomComs

All of the best movies from the Golden Age Of The RomCom – the 1990s – have one thing in common. No, it’s not Meg Ryan, and it’s not Julia Roberts either. Give up? It’s a little boy with a bowl cut. Sleepless in Seattle: little boy with a bowl cut. Father Of The Bride: LBWBC (that’s our abbreviation for Little Boy With Bowl Cut, but I’m sure you caught that). She’s All That: LBWBC… the same LBWBC as Father Of The Bride. All of these little boys with bowl cuts have grown into men by now, so let’s see what they – and their bowl cuts – are up to today.

Sleepless In Seattle

The little boy with the bowl cut: Jonah (Ross Malinger) is a wise-beyond-his-years tot who calls a radio show to find love for his widowed dad, Sam. Jonah is best pals with Jessica, a miniature Gaby Hoffmann. The most badass bowl cut in the genre, little Jonah flies cross-country to help his Pops meet the lady of his dreams.

Was it a good bowl cut? LOOK at this freaking bowl cut. Perfectly follows his head contours, rich brown coloring, neither too puffy nor too limp: this is the bowl cuts all other bowl cuts aspire to be.

Where is he now? Little Jonah attended three different schools during his fourth grade year, as Sam and his main squeeze Annie tried to decide whether to live in Seattle, Baltimore, or somewhere in the middle (which was short lived, because the middle was Kansas). He and Jessica briefly dated in high school. Jonah now works as a travel agent.

Does he still have a bowl cut? I could see that. That full, tidy helmet of a bowl cut is too beautiful to waste.

One Fine Day

The little boy with the bowl cut: Sammy (Alex D. Linz, the most celebrated Boy With A Bowl Cut of the mid-90s) is the child of harried single mom, Melanie (Michelle Pfeiffer). Melanie has a hectic meet-cute when she accidentally swaps cell phones with the harried single dad (George Clooney) of Maggie (an itty-bitty Mae Whitman, whom we now know and love as Parenthood’s Amber). Sammy is a bit less precocious than Jonah. The Sleepless In Seattle bowl-cut boy meant to help his dad out, but this kiddo just keeps tying up his mom’s schedule so that she keeps running into Clooney. Important thing to remember about this movie: it was long enough ago (1996) that the mere fact that both adults had cell phones that they used outside of emergencies meant that they were very busy and important.

Was it a good bowl cut? It’s a bad bowl cut. Not bad in the “not good” sense but bad like hardass and dripping with danger. Look how ruffled and sun-bleached it is. It’s a bowl cut on the edge, and neither comb nor convention can constrain it.

Where is he now? Like most neglected children, Sammy is a pretty happy kid because nobody’s keeping tabs on him. He’s also a pretty hellish teenager. The adults manage to make their relationship work, and Sammy and Maggie spend high school smoking and drinking and throwing parties during their parents’ frequent business trips. Inspired by his stepdad’s career, Sammy goes to J-school and gets nepotismed into a low-status section of the New York Daily News, before ultimately getting downgraded to a staff blogger.

Does he still have a bowl cut? No way.

You’ve Got Mail

The little boy with the bowl cut: Matthew Fox (Jeffrey Scaperrotta) is the little half-brother of Joe (Tom Hanks), the heir to a book megastore dynasty. Together with Joe’s aunt Annabel (a little girl), Matt serves the purpose of making Joe seem more kind-hearted and appealing to children’s bookstore owner Kathleen (Meg Ryan).

Was it a good bowl cut? Yeah, it’s fine.

Where is he now? After Annabel’s father dies (because he is like 80), she moves in with Matt’s family and becomes his sort-of sister. Then Matt’s father dies too, not because I have a particularly bleak outlook on things but because those virile Fox men fathered children into their 70s. Anyway, they both move in with Joe and Kathleen, and there’s no real family strife. Their fake mom runs a children’s bookstore and Matt wears turtlenecks, for goodness sake. They’re perfect. Matt’s biggest rebellion is choosing the Boxcar Children over The Bobbsey Twins. In the present day, Matt heads up the children’s division of Fox Books. Kathleen maintains an infuriatingly cute mommy blog/ Pinterest account. You saw how cute her shop is.

Does he still have a bowl cut? Oh, he absolutely still has a bowl cut.

As Good As It Gets

The little boy with the bowl cut: Spencer (Jesse James) is our most delicate Little Boy With A Bowl Cut. You can tell because his bowl cut is blond and tousled, not a robust brunette bowl cut like the healthier Sammy or Matt. He has an unnamed, mysterious disease which worries his waitress mom Carol (Helen Hunt), but not enough to keep her from hooking up with an old guy (Jack Nicholson).

Was it a good bowl cut? You know how, when a human dies, even if you were lukewarm on them before, once they’re dead they were your favorite and the very best? Well. This bowl cut was my favorite and the very best.

Where is he now? RIP. That mystery disease was bad news.

Does he still have a bowl cut? No. Because RIP. That bowl cut was a fair flower, not long to blossom in this world.

Father Of The Bride

The little boy with the bowl cut: Matty (because boys from RomComs are named Matthew) is Annie’s kid brother (because women from RomComs are named Annie). When she comes home from Europe and announces her engagement, the whole family falls into a tizzy planning the wedding, as dad George (Steve Martin) struggles to let go of his little girl. In the sequel, Father Of The Bride Part II, Matty’s mom (Diane Keaton) and sister are both expecting babies at the same time

Was it a good bowl cut? No, it was the WORST bowl cut. Lank and flat, like whatever the less-full version of a bowl is (colander maybe?).

Where is he now? After watching his father wax nostalgic about playing basketball with big sis Annie  – seemingly forgetting that he still had a small child at home – Matty realizes he’ll never measure up to his sister. Instead, he focuses on being the best big bro possible to Baby Megan. There was recently a rumor that Steve Martin would be filming a sequel where he plays the father of the groom (an all-grown-up Matty!) in a same-sex wedding. I like that. Let’s go with that.

Does he still have a bowl cut? I have never seen a bowl cut on a gay man, although I’m sure they must exist. So, in a word, no.

She’s All That

The little boy with the bowl cut: Your eyes aren’t fooling you, you’ve seen that bowl cut before! Kieran Culkin, the baby brother from Father Of The Bride, is the baby brother once again. He and his sister Laney are raised by their single dad after the death of their mother. Unlike Laney, Simon realizes that Zack (Freddie Prinze Jr.) is a trashy garbage dude-bro. Simon also has hearing aids, for some reason. On one hand it’s very cool to have a disability that isn’t an issue in a movie, on the other hand WTF just tell us what’s up with his hearing, you know?

Was it a good bowl cut? With all due respect to those great PSAs, it gets worse. It’s PARTED. There’s a tendril on his FOREHEAD. It’s like a limper version of Dorothy HAMILL.

Where is he now? Trudging through every family Christmas with his much-hated brother-in-law Zack, playing with his nephews Brayler and Kylan (because of course that’s what Zack The Bro would call his children), doing something in I.T. probably. He got cochlear implants, not that anyone really noticed or cared about Simon’s hearing anyway. Or Simon in general.

Does he still have a bowl cut? Nah. He only had that to cover his hearing aids.

Bowl Cuts: An Epilog

The craze (?) for Little Boys With Bowl Cuts continued into the romantic comedies of the early 2000s. The golden age was over, but lustrous bowl cuts still made appearances in About A Boy, Love Actually and Raising Helen. With the post-9/11 economy and Great Recession, the cost of maintaining bowl cuts became too much to muster. The bowl cut may have died, but as long as we have Netflix or Cable TV, they will live in our hearts and screens forevermore.

 

 

We’re Just That Into You: Underrated RomComs

If you delve into RomCom culture (which is like… probably a real thing, right?), you’ll find different tiers of Romantic Comedies. First, the well-respected, critically acclaimed classics. There you have your Annie Hall, your When Harry Met Sally, your Breakfast at Tiffany’s, maybe even your Sleepless in Seattle.

Then, there are those box office hits that are not technically cinematic masterpieces. If you ask a lady what her favorite romantic comedy is, she may say one of those top-tier movies, but then she’ll pause for a second and say “You know what my REAL favorite is?” Then she’ll say something like You’ve Got Mail, Notting Hill, or Love Actually.

Next tier: guilty pleasures. These are the filler films or teen comedies that you can’t help but love – and everyone else does, too. Enter 10 Things I Hate About You, 13 Going On 30 … probably anything with a number in the title, or that is on heavy rotation on TBS.

Finally we hit the focus of today’s post: the underrated RomCom. Those movies you adore, but that nobody ever really talks about when they talk about RomComs. Sometimes it’s because they don’t get classified as romantic comedies even though they are, and sometimes it’s because nobody has seen them. And we’re not ashamed to say they’re some of our favorites.

Away We Go

This is an atypical romantic comedy because it’s not a boy-meet-girl, boy-loses girl scenario. John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph play a committed couple with a baby on the way, and they make a journey to decide where and how to raise their daughter. It raises the much more interesting follow-up question to “will they end up together?”: how will they build a life together? Instead of watching a couple grapple with their love for another, that’s a given from the beginning – but just like in real life, that’s not the answer to every question. A perfect movie if your concept of love goes beyond wondering who you’ll end up with.

Crossing Delancey

I can’t understate how much I loved Crossing Delancey as a kid, and how much I still love it now. It sounds typical enough: Izzy Grossman (Amy Irving) works at a bookstore, and her bubbie uses a marriage broker to set her up with a pickle salesman. But does Izzy end up with him or the high-profile author? I mean, you already know. But that’s never the point. The reason this movie always seemed so special: Izzy could be me or someone I know. She’s good at her job, but she’s not that stick-up-her-butt RomCom lady who’s so caught up in her professional life that she’ll never accept love. She’s funny, but she’s not a sad-sack gal who trips a lot. If you want to watch a reasonably realistic lady fall in love in a very 1980s Lower East Side, this is the one for you.

I know that this one is underrated because whenever I call out my “Crossing Delancey bangs” when the humidity monster hits, nobody ever gets the reference.

They Came Together

If you love RomComs, you might not be interested in a mean-spirited takedown of the genre, but They Came Together isn’t that. It just plays up all of those silly RomCom elements we’ve come to love. It was billed as a parody of romantic comedies, but it felt more like a pastiche.  Oh. And did I mention that it stars Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler? She works in a candy shop (of course) and he works for Big Candy. Her name is Molly, and I’m not just saying this because it’s my name – it’s such a RomCom name. You know how most 20- and 30- something women have names like Melissa and Courtney, but RomCom ladies all have names from Little Golden Books, like Molly or Annie or Sally? And he’s vaguely Jewish, but not kippah-every-day Jewish. They hate each other, until they love each other, and I’m sure you can guess the rest.

What If

Please just trust me here. If your write out the plot summary – boy and girl meet, she’s attached, he’s a boy wizard, they have obvious chemistry, and they decide to be friends – it doesn’t sound like much. But do any RomComs sound like much? This one succeeds on its clever writing and the great chemistry between Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan. It sounds like a picky thing, but a lot of romantic comedies have major pacing issues, devoting 50 minutes into convincing you this couple should be together, and then some weird misunderstanding for 20 minutes… I don’t know what it is, but director Michael Dowse nails the pacing and that really contributes to how downright enjoyable this movie is.

Obvious Child

This one wasn’t underrated by critics – they loved it! – or by audiences – they loved it too! – but it’s a bit underrated as a RomCom. When the media started billing Obvious Child as an “abortion comedy,” I think people expected something political or hard-edged. What it is, instead, is a very sweet comedy that speaks to what it’s like to be in your late 20s, a time so full of awkward growing pains that it almost feels like a second adolescence. Donna (Jenny Slate) doesn’t have a high-powered job or a flashy wardrobe. But she does work hard at her fledgeling standup career, dresses nicely on stage, and has a tidy apartment. That is: Donna’s life is a mess for a while, but you don’t believe that she, as a person, is a mess, at least not for the long-term. And her love interest, Max, is what I believe old people call “cute as a bug’s ear.”

I remember seeing an interview where either Slate or director Gillian Robespierre (can’t remember!) said she loved Crossing Delancey too, so there’s my RomCom advice. Find out who loves your own underrated favorites, then watch whatever they come up with.

Midnight In Paris

If you were a certain kind of kid, you probably went through a phrase where you thought time travel would be the coolest thing ever. That’s what happens here, as Gil (Owen Wilson) travels between present-day Paris and the city in the 1920s, where he meets the Fitzgeralds, Hemingway, Josephine Baker and a host of others. The glitz and wackiness of the roaring 20s is fantastic, and you see the perils of nostalgia through the eyes of a modern man finally getting to experience his favorite era. Midnight In Paris is a lot of fun and a true cinematic rarity: a Woody Allen movie that does not star Woody Allen.

Celeste and Jesse Forever

I went into the theater to see this by myself, thinking I was in for a fun romantic comedy featuring two of the greatest people, Andy Samberg and Rashida Jones. While the movie does include romance and comedy, I wasn’t prepared for the drama part of it. I’m not going to spoil it for you, because I think everyone should see this film, but just have tissues by your side in the event of an emergency. So giving you the info I was given before seeing the movie, Celeste and Jesse met in high school and married young, but at the beginning of the film, we meet them in the midst of a divorce. There are twists and turns that you might not expect, but it has all the elements of my ultimate favorite kind of film – the RomComDram (Romance-Comedy-Drama, if you didn’t crack that code). Also the soundtrack is reason to go alone. When you’re Quincy Jones’ daughter, you have to have excellent taste in music.

Down With Love

One of the queens of the RomCom world, Bridget Jones herself, Renee Zellwegger stars as Barbara Novak, an author who advocates female independence, most notably in her book Down With Love. Set in the 1950s, Barbara encourages ladies to enjoy sex without commitment, and meets her enemy (potential match?) in Ewan MacGregor’s Catcher Block, a notorious ladies’ man and overall chauvinist pig. What I love about this movie is that is basically a parody of all those classic Doris Day-y comedies that were made in the ’50s, so when you watch it, you have to keep in mind that it’s not being entirely serious. I’m a sucker for this era of music, and yet again, the soundtrack pushes it over the edge and even I fell head over heels in love with the film.

Fever Pitch

Maybe it’s because Jimmy Fallon’s in it. Maybe it’s because I just really enjoy Drew Barrymore. Maybe it’s because the film is set/filmed in Boston. All I know is that Fever Pitch is not only one of my most underrated RomComs of all time, but it’s one of the most underrated movies of all time, IMO. Jimbo plays Ben, a teacher who, like many New England-ers, is a die-hard Red Sox fan. He meets Lindsey, who is a super-businesswoman who could care less for the Sox. Clearly Ben, who sleeps in Sox sheets and has a replica of the Green Monster in his apartment, lets his love for the team get in the way of any relationship, especially the one with Lindsey, despite the fact she’s obviously the love of his life. As an added bonus to this hilar and romantic love story, the movie actually ends with victory in more ways than one. Go Sox.

On the Line

As a BSB fan, I was ashamed that I even watched On the Line, which starred Lance Bass and Joey Fatone. But as a teenybopper, I felt it was my duty to watch this film, no matter how horrible I thought it would be. I mean, it’s a story that’s been told before – boy meets girl on subway. Boy puts up flyers and classified ads to find girl. Boy and girl nearly miss each other at Al Green concert. JT & Chris Kirkpatrick show up as part of a glam squad. Boy and girl finally reunite at the train station they met at. But you know, still one of those bad good movies you should probably watch.

License to Wed

So this might be the third time John Krasinski’s come up during RomCom Week – so what, who cares? In a stark contrast to Away We Go, Licensed to Wed is a super corny RomCom in the truest sense of the term. Ben (JKras) and Sadie (Mandy Moore) are heading down the aisle. But in order to get married in the church of Sadie’s choice, they must go through an intense and, quite frankly, pretty insane prenuptial course run by Reverend Frank, played by the great Robin Williams. The movie is super predictable, but the best/worst RomComs always are. Mandy perfectly plays the sweet bride, John portrays a charming motherf’er, per usual, and Robin is his usual hyper, hilarious self. If you want to watch a movie that’s not completely horrible, but not Shawshank Redemption level, this one’s for you.

He’s Just Not That Into You

I never read this book, and I know the movie got a bunch of mixed reviews, but I am in the minority of people who didn’t hate this movie? Ok, I straight up liked it a lot. I’m a sucker for those big cast/intertwining story movies (I actually saw New Year’s Eve in the theater), and this one is no different. With Jennifer Aniston, Ben Affleck, Drew Barrymore, and BRADLEY COOPER (I think I’m confusing his character with the one in Valentine’s Day, which I also liked), you assume it’s a movie that’s going to be really good. From the cheating husband to the man who won’t commit to the best friends who won’t just realize they’re perform for each other, the movie covers almost every type of relationship problem there is. Which, I guess, is kind of the point, isn’t it?