Expectations vs. Reality: RomCom Cliches

If you expected this final post of RomCom Week to include a huge grand declaration of love for you, I’m here to burst your bubble because it’s not going to happen. JUST KIDDING, WE APPRECIATE ALL OF YOU READERS AND OUR LOVE IS AS PERFECT AS THE END OF ALL ROMCOMS.

But for serious, these movies tend to make our expectations high regarding our real life relationships, and most of the time, we just don’t get that perfect movie ending. So we’re here to lay some truth nuggets on you about some of the most used RomCom cliches used over the years. It ain’t gonna be pretty.

Expectation: You move to a new city and you immediately get along with your neighbors and everyone you encounter.

Reality: You have no friends except your mailman and the barista at the Starbucks down the street who gives you free Venti upgrades because he feels sorry for you.

Expectation: You have a great job in your mid-20s and you actually love it. You’ll be a high-power lawyer or own your own bookstore/bakery or architect or gallery curator at the Guggenheim.

Reality: Working a job you’re just fine with and still paying that little bitch Sallie Mae all of your student loans.

Expectation: Makeovers bring all the boys and girls to the yard.

Reality: No one does a better you than yourself.

Expectation: You can fall down all the time – while carrying things, down stairs, up stairs – but miraculously get up a bit humiliated, but otherwise okay.

Reality: If you fall down in front of your crush, worst-case scenario they’re going to watch you hobble off to Urgent Care to get your ankle X-rayed, best case scenario you’re getting up with a run in your stockings, a broken shoe, and stains from the coffee you were carrying. Which means you’re also going to smell like old coffee for the rest of the day.

Expectation:  You will have one less-attractive best friend whose whole purpose in life is to listen to your romantic problems then give you advice.

Reality: Your friends have their own lives. Or give bad advice. Or are prettier than you. Sorry.

Expectation: There will always be a Token (minority/gay best friend, etc.) to make snarky comments and witty side banter while you tell tales of your romantic plight.

 

Reality: Okay, so this may be true, but I’m just bringing this up because maybe it’s time the Token becomes the protagonist more often? Just saying.

Expectation: Once you meet a guy you’re into, you run into him all of the time at parties, grocery shopping, book stores, the park…

Reality: Option 1: That doesn’t really happen, so you actually have to decide to see each other on purpose, which is a lot trickier. Option 2: You DO run into each other all the time, and you can’t decide whether you’re more worried that you look like a stalker, or he is a stalker.

Expectation: When you can’t stand someone, it’s probably because you secretly love him.

Reality: When you can’t stand someone, it’s probably because you can’t stand him.

Expectation: You’ve been secretly (or maybe not-so-secretly) in love with your best guy/girl friend for years and when you finally get the guts to confess your feelings, they reciprocate with their own confession of love.

Reality: Sometimes friends are just friends. Sorry, boo boo. He’s just not that into you.

Expectation: Your relationship will kick off with a grand declaration of love.

Reality: You’ll kind of start hanging out more and more, and then after a month or two you have that “so, what ARE we anyway?” conversation.

Expectation: Your quirks are adorable. Every weird thing you do becomes another item on your love interest’s Meet Virginia-esque, Drops Of Jupiter-y list of things he thinks are precious about you.

Reality: Weird people are weird. Nobody thinks it’s cute that you’re so cold that you sleep in sweatshirts, or that you hate the sound of other people chewing, or that you make up your own lyrics to pop songs in the car. At best, they tolerate it.

Expectation: Once you find love, all your problems will be gone and you’ll live happily ever after.

yes, this is from grey’s anatomy. it counts because she spits the truth.

Reality: False. Ultimately, only you can make yourself happy. If you’re happy as a person and happy as a half of a couple, right on. But just being in love isn’t always enough.

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I’m Just A Girl, Standing In Front Of A Boy…

It’s day one of RomCom Week! We’re kicking things off with one of the most frequent tropes in the RomCom world – the confession of love. Even if you’re not a RomCom fan, you know this scene. It’s the one that you see coming towards the end of the movie, but when the main character does it, it might be in a way you don’t expect, and all of a sudden you’re tearing up and questioning your sanity (No? Just me?). There have been plenty of confessions of love throughout the history of romantic comedies, but here are just a few of our favorites from over the years (in no particular order).

Notting Hill

Notting Hill is one of my top three romantic comedies of all time. Maybe even one of my favorite films, ever. I was obsessed with it in high school, and basically wore out my VHS tape from rewinding it over and over again. This particular scene is one of the iconic scenes in all of movie history, where Hollywood superstar Anna (Julia Roberts) tries to convince British bookshop owner Will that despite the fact she’s a celebrity, she’s “also just a girl, standing in front of a boy… etc. etc. etc.” There’s a second confession of love in the film that often times gets looked over, but at the end, Will realizes he’s been dumb and chases Anna to a press conference and admits he’s been “a daft prick” in front of all the cameras. He proves that the whole ‘celebrity’ thing is out of his mind now, and he’s ready to be with her. I mean.

When Harry Met Sally

Hey, guys, remember the time I hadn’t seen When Harry Met Sally until last summer, and then I promptly became completely and utterly enamored with it? Yeah, because that happened. How have I been living my life having not seen this amazing film?! I don’t know either. But what I do know is that Harry loves Sally, and it’s apparent the entire time they were ‘just friends’. But they just didn’t realize it. When Harry rushes to the New Year’s Eve party to tell her how he loves how she hates things and she straight out just says she hates him, it’s a romance that you know was just meant to be.

Love Actually

While Love Actually has a bunch of confessions of love sprinkled throughout the last half of the film, this one might be my favorite. Jamie learns Portugese just to propose to Aurelia – and in front of her family, friends and co-workers and all of the restaurant. And while it’s amazing that he spent so much time learning her language, I think it’s even more amazing that they fell in love with each other having barely being able to understand each other when they speak. Love, while all around, knows no barriers.

10 Things I Hate About You

Raise your hand if you can recite any or all lines from Kat’s poem. This was one of those movies that made our particular generation, and especially pulls at the heartstrings because of the brilliance that is Heath Ledger. While his redemption performance of Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You on the stadium stairs is unforgettable, it is this scene where Kat outwardly admits her love for Patrick that makes your dark heart turn a lighter shade of red.

The Wedding Singer

Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler are obviously RomCom royalty, and this is one of their best films they’ve done together. The ’80s just work for both Drew and Adam, and they created a wonderful world of the wedding circuit that was the perfect background for two unlikely lovers. In this scene, Robbie (Adam) books a flight to Vegas in hopes of stopping Julia (Drew) from eloping with her boyfriend. They end up on the same flight – as Billy Idol – and wouldn’t you know- Billy Idol helps Robbie orchestrate a special mile-high serenade to Julia. The song is the perfect sentiment and the perfect ending for a couple who meet while working for a wedding.

Jerry Maguire

Speaking of movies I’d never seen until last year – this girl waited a super long time to watch Jerry Maguire. It’s a pretty good movie, y’all. I suggest you see it! Despite the fact Tom Cruise has been ruined to me by XENUscientology, his realization that Dorothy is actually the best thing to happen to him is fantastic. Any time someone confesses their feelings in front of unsuspecting members of society, it’s bound to be good. And while Dorothy was good after he said ‘hello’, I gotta admit the rest of that speech wasn’t half bad, either.

Something Borrowed

I love John Krasinski. He is the reason I even paid to see this movie in the theater. I hadn’t even read the book – but J Kras in a romantic comedy? Yes. I’m available. Despite being more well known for his comedic roles, he’s actually a great dramatic actor, and when he brings that depth to a comedic role unexpectedly, he hits it out of the ball park. He did it with his Jim and Pam scenes and he did it when he confessed his love to BFF Rachel in Something Borrowed. I honestly don’t know how you can say no to this guy after this speech.

Runaway Bride

Okay, don’t X out of the window after you read this, but I’ve only seen like 10 minutes of Pretty WomanI KNOW I KNOW. It’s on the list. I can tell you that during my Notting Hill phase I was just overall obsessed with Julia Roberts, which is why my VHS tape of Runaway Bride is also worn out. Runaway Bride was Julia and Richard Gere’s “sequel” to Pretty Woman, but this time, she plays a far different character who is known for ditching her fiances on their wedding day – hence the Runaway part. Richard plays a reporter who is writing an article about said Runaway Bride and believe it or not, they fall in love. But what makes them a match is that he challenges her in ways she had never been challenged before, particularly egging her on to be her own person, and not just who she thinks her boyfriend/husband thinks she should be. So when she proposes to him – and turns in her running shoes – it’s obviously a big deal

You’ve Got Mail

I recently re-watched You’ve Got Mail for the first time since circa 1995, and let me tell you, it’s quite a different experience. Not only because I am an adult now, but – EMAIL! AOL!! CAN YOU BELIEVE WE HAD TO WAIT FOR A DIAL-UP MODEM TO LOG ONTO THE INTERWEBZ?! I digress. The plot obviously still holds up, and that’s why the basis of the story dates all the way back to 1937. Two anonymous pen pals write each other and fall in love, while in real life, they meet each other and are sworn enemies. The final scene isn’t much a confession of love, but rather a big reveal with very little dialogue. But it doesn’t need it – we know exactly how they feel.

I Saw 10 Ships: The Best Christmas RomComs

When you think of what children’s Christmas movies are really about – elaborate holiday fantasies about befriending Santa, visiting the North Pole, and getting the ultimate present – it’s a wonder that any kids like them at all. Real life never matches up.

You could say the same thing about holiday rom coms. I don’t know why I love watching attractive people fall head-over-heels in love (right in time for Christmas!) while sporting designer wardrobes. I could die alone in clothes from Target, but that won’t stop me from loving a good Christmas rom com. If you love rom coms too, make some time between now and 12/25 to see these three ten ‘ships come sailing in.

Traci’s Picks

Love Actually

What’s a Christmas movie list without Love Actually? Shit – is what it is. I remember going to see this with some friends in high school (at the theater Molly used to work at!) and immediately loving it about 10 minutes in. I was enamored with Christmas in London, hot Karl, Jamie and Aurelia’s unspoken love story, ‘Ifyou real-ly love Christtt-mas’ charming Prime Minister Hugh Grant, pre-fame Chiwetel Ejiofor & January Jones, everything about Emma Thompson, SAM – all of it. I bought the soundtrack and played it on repeat, even when it wasn’t Christmas. Needless to say, it’s not only one of my favorite Holiday RomComs, but all time movies in general. Besides Crash, Richard Curtis brought the intersecting storylines way of filmmaking into the the 2000s, and it’s been an influence on movies ever since.

The Best Man Holiday

Let’s be real. I only went to see this movie theater because of the impressive amount of HBMs (<- click for explanation). I hadn’t see the first one, but I figured I didn’t really need to know much about it, and they would recap me if necessary. And if you haven’t seen it either, the good news is that when you watch The Best Man Holiday, they’ll do just that. This group of longtime friends gets together for some quality time over Christmas, and while there are many laughs and near panty-dropping moments (like the one shown above), all I’m telling you is to watch with a box of tissues next to you. You will probably need them.

I’ll Be Home For Christmas

I wasn’t one of those girls into JTT. Just call me the 1%. I was too busy fangirling over Leo and BSB, I didn’t have time for a silly crush on a 90s It boy. However, I wasn’t exactly immune to his movies either. Like this one, a fun and festive adventure which has JTT speeding across the country in a Santa suit to get from California back home to New York in time for Christmas. Yes, that is Jessica Biel as his girlfriend. Yes, of course, the ride in a one-horse open sleigh together.

Bad Santa

Does this really constitute as a romantic comedy? Maybe not entirely, but these is some ‘romance’ in it, thanks to my girl Lauren Graham and her naughty relationship with Billy Bob Thornton’s Santa. He’s a disaster, but you know who really wins Christmas in this movie? THIS KID.

When Harry Met Sally…

When Harry Met Sally doesn’t entirely take place over the holidays, but a chunk of it does, and of course the end at New Year’s Eve, so I’m counting it. If you’ve read my previous post about this film, you’ll know that I was a late bloomer to this amazing movie, but I’m all in now. WHMS is a reminder that New York at Christmastime is a magical beautiful place – and then you snap back into reality watching Sally try to haul a Christmas tree by herself in the snow down the street. But all of it, the good and the bad, is a reminder why RomComs like this are the perfect thing to watch at the holidays. They make you laugh, make you cry, make you all tingly inside knowing that the season isn’t just about the trees and the snow and the presents – it’s about being around the people you love.

Molly’s Picks

The Holiday

The Holiday is one of my top two Christmas rom coms (it sort of shares first place with Love Actually). It has everything I could want in a Christmas movie: aspirational real estate (both the California mansion and the Cotswolds cottage), just-as-aspirational hair and wardrobe, precocious English tots, a kindly old man, and Jude Law right in the middle of what will someday be remembered as his golden era. Sure, it does fall into the romcom trope of everyone thinking the obviously pretty and charismatic Kate Winslet is some sort of sad sack, but – spoiler! it turns out she’s leading lady material after all. With Jack Black and Cameron Diaz rounding out the main cast, the Holiday is the perfect balance of rom and com.

Meet Me In St. Louis

As with regular-season rom coms, it’s important not to disregard the classics at Christmas. This musical (come on, you knew there would be a musical!) follows a year in the life of a turn-of-the-century family. However, the film ends at Christmas time, and is the origin of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. To be honest, I never would have bothered with this movie if (1) I weren’t in the play in 8th grade, and (2) it didn’t star Judy Garland while she was still … doing well. But it’s worth watching if you like musicals, holiday cheer, and one of the most talented performers of a generation.

The Family Stone

I recommend this rom com with one reservation: I am recommending the whole thing except for the last, oh, five-ish minutes. If you’ve seen it, you know why. But the rest of it is great, sort of a Yuletide This Is Where I Leave You. And like TIWILY, it’s at least somewhat relatable if you have a large family of grown siblings, in-laws, nieces and nephews. The comedic parts of it hit a little harder than a lot of Christmas movies, which stick to the feel-good fluff. Plus, the cast is incredible: Christmas King Dermot Mulroney, as well as Diane Keaton, Craig T. Nelson, Luke Wilson, Sarah Jessica Parker, Claire Danes, Rachel McAdams,  Elizabeth Reaser and Paul Schneider (Mark Brendanawicz himself).

But I mean it about the last 5-10 minutes.

Elf

Elf, a rom com? I say that it is! It may be a children’s/ family movie, but I think it’s one of the funniest films out there. And I know I’m not the only one who thinks so, because just about every other adult I know can quote the whole thing. After a rocky start (the musical Law and Order: SVU episode setup that is Baby It’s Cold Outside), the gentle love story of Buddy and Jovie is a big part of what makes Elf so sweet. What can I say? Smiling’s my favorite.

While You Were Sleeping

If I had to explain to someone what 1995 was like, in the romcom world anyway, I’d show them While You Were Sleeping. This movie is just so delightfully normcore, before we had a word for it. Everyone’s hanging out in Chicago, wearing Gap sweaters and Land’s End khakis, telling lies about their romantic history and falling in love during comas and stuff. If you’re wondering why your mom still calls Sandra Bullock America’s Sweetheart, just watch While You Were Sleeping.

Pros & Cons of Watching When Harry Meets Sally 25 Years Too Late

Last month, I went to an outdoor screening of When Harry Met Sally. And believe it or not – it was my first time EVER seeing the movie. I’ll give you a minute to let that sink in. I kind of have a pop culture blind spot to a lot of classic films (I’m more of a TV person, if you couldn’t tell), and this is one of them. It’s particularly odd when I tell people this, because some of my favorite movies are of the rom-com genre, like Love Actually and Notting Hill #NoShame So going into my first viewing of WHMS, I had an inkling I would like it – I just didn’t realize I would like it THAT much. I couldn’t stop talking about it and thinking about it. I even looked up how much it would be on Amazon that same night. There are so many reasons why I enjoyed it, but I finally realized after viewing it why it had become such an important film in movie history – the story is timeless. At its core, WHMS is a movie questioning whether or not men and women can stay friends and never turn into lovers. That wasn’t just a problem in the 1980s, but it’s obviously still a question that’s asked today. And despite the fact WHMS is timeless, it’s not entirely “timeless”, as in, it’s been 25 years (to this day) since it was released, and there are still things that change over time. So here’s a few pros and cons I noted while watching this iconic movie for the very first time.

PRO: A youthful Meg Ryan

I think the first movie I ever saw Meg Ryan in was Sleepless in Seattle, which was made only four years after WHMS. But I don’t remember her ever looking as young as she did in this movie. I mean look at the youth! Look at the glow! She’s practically a baby acting out adult themes! It’s amazing that we can forever look back at this movie and seen the exact moment when she became a bonafide movie star.

CON: Meg Ryan’s face now

meg-ryan-billy-crystal-when-harry-met-sally-rftr

Well. Here she is. This picture was taken in April. Now 53, Meg is…  still sporting a cute blonde ‘do.

PRO: Being grateful of escaping 80s fashion

Really, the fashion in this movie is the only thing that makes it distinguishable as a movie made in 1989, as opposed to present day. The script could be set in 2014, and nothing would have to be changed. Except for like the Rolodex and the phones. And especially the clothes. There are some scenes that scream 80s, including this one which features Meg Ryan wearing a stunning green velour dress with protruding shoulderpads as she serves as the maid of honor for her best friend’s wedding. Velour tho.

CON: Realizing that some of that 80s fashion is actually back in style

Could’ve sworn I saw a hipster wearing this same outfit in Silver Lake recently.

PRO: Understanding post-college life

Oh man. I so relate to this quote. I wouldn’t have been able to *get it* if I had watched it before. Even as a teenager I wouldn’t have completely understood.

“I’m 26 years old and I can’t even remember the name of the girl I was such good friends with that I wouldn’t even get involved with her boyfriend!”

CON: Self-realization of post-college life

Ugh. I’m 28. I graduated high school 10 years ago and I’m already starting to forget people I went to college with. Just put me in a senior living community now.

PRO: Still feeling hopeful for a love that lasts a lifetime

But how cute are these couples. Fun fact: they’re all real couples telling their real stories. Director Rob Reiner got the idea when he was talking to his producing friend’s dad and said, “Mr. Horn, how did you meet your wife?” Mr. Horn lit up and told Rob his story. And Mr. Horn is actually the very first guy featured in the set of interviews alongside his wife. *swoon*

CON: Wondering where the old couples are now

Okay sorry to be the downer here, but like, this movie was made 25 years ago, right? And these cute couples are old. Like they had already been married for about 50 years, old. I’m not (completely) delusional to realize that some of these folks might not be with us anymore and that makes me really sad.

PRO: The movie is a reminder Christmas in NYC is magical

New York City is the third biggest character in this movie. It should be When Harry Met Sally and We Met New York. Rob Reiner did a fantastic job of using the city as much as he could, making it look like a dream world where anything is possible – including love. The scenes that particularly hit me at the core were the ones during Christmas. Christmas is my favorite and even though I live in Los Angeles, I still yearn for White Christmases. When Harry and Sally are carrying that tree and establishing shots are shown of snow-covered landmarks in NY, it gives me all the warm and fuzzies.

CON: And then my dreams are dashed

Then I remember what living with freezing temps and bundling up in five+ layers and never-ending snow is like and I’m over it.

PRO: Appreciating the greatness that is Nora Ephron

I apologize for being such a bad comedy/writer nerd that I had no idea just how GOOD Nora Ephron’s writing was in this movie. Yes, the actors gave great performances and excellent delivery on lines that were just written on paper, but the way Nora Ephron writes is pure genius. She’s not just writing a script, she’s telling a story. It’s as if Harry Burns and Sally Albright are real life people, and Nora just transcribed their day to day conversations. Plus, her writing is smart and sentimental – it’s no wonder why so many movies and TV shows have followed in the same vain as WHMS – because it works.

PRO/CON: Retroactively having a crush on Billy Crystal

I’d like to think there’s a majority of people in my generation that associate Billy Crystal with SNL or Analyze This or City Slickers or the guy who hosts the Oscars a lot. We don’t necessarily think of him as the lead in a romantic comedy. So color me super surprised when I found myself crushing (?) on Billy Crystal (?!) throughout this movie!! He’s not even like, textbook Zefron handsome, but he’s funny and charming and boy is he in love with Sally. A man head over heels in love is worth swooning for.