July 2020


romantic comedy

About Time (2013)

DIRECTOR: Richard Curtis

CAST: Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy


Writer-director Richard Curtis might not stray out of his romantic comedy comfort zone (he was previously the screenwriter of Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, and Bridget Jones’ Diary, and the writer-director of Love Actually), but for his latest installment, he’s souped it up with a time travel twist.  Actually, given how the premise hinges on it, how fast and loose Curtis plays with his own established time travel rules might annoy some sticklers for consistency too much to appreciate the film’s charms, but while riddled with topsy turvy internal logic, About Time is a pleasant, sentimental little romantic comedy-drama that offers an enjoyable diversion for those who appreciate this sort of thing. Continue reading

Warm Bodies (2013)

DIRECTOR: Jonathan Levine

CAST: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Rob Corddry, Dave Franco, Analeigh Tipton, Cory Hardrict, John Malkovich


An adaptation of Isaac Marion’s novel, Warm Bodies combines two genres you might have reasonably expected to never see combined—romantic comedy and zombies.  Warm Bodies aspires to be part romantic comedy, part satire, and part more straightforward zombie thriller. If that sounds like a clashing jumble, that’s because it is, and the movie’s schizophrenic, trying-to-be-a-little-bit-of-everything tone holds it back from fully succeeding at being anything, but there are also enough witty moments, likable leads, and a unique premise to make Warm Bodies at least worth a curious look. Continue reading

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

DIRECTOR: David O. Russell

CAST: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker, Julia Stiles, John Ortiz, Dash Mihok, Anupam Kher


Silver Linings Playbook technically falls into the romantic comedy genre, but it’s a less rosy, edgier, more adult version without completely abandoning the tropes fans come to see.  As unlikely as it might sound, director David O. Russell (not one to shy away from quirky material) uses mental illness as a catalyst for humor and romance.  To that end, Silver Linings Playbook is a quirky, frothy romantic comedy-drama bolstered by solid acting and a more in-depth treatment of mental illness than one might expect. Continue reading

This Means War (2012)



Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Tom Hardy, Chelsea Handler, Til Schweiger, Angela Bassett, Rosemary Harris


This Means War is an adequate hour and a half of diversion for the bored and undemanding, but is as slickly studio-polished a slice of fluffy and forgettable mindless entertainment as can be found. Continue reading

Letters to Juliet (2010)

DIRECTOR: Gary Winick


Amanda Seyfried, Vanessa Redgrave, Christopher Egan, Gael Garcia Bernal, Franco Nero, Oliver Platt



Letters to Juliet is a pleasant, unchallenging little story that doesn’t offer any plot turns that aren’t possible to see coming a hundred miles away but serves up enough sweetness to be an adequate morsel for those seeking something to whet the appetite of their inner romantic. Continue reading

500 Days of Summer (2009)

500DIRECTOR: Marc Webb

CAST: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel, Chloe Grace Moretz, Geoffrey Arend, Matthew Gray Gubler, Clark Gregg, Minka Kelly


While it contains its share of romance, 500 Days of Summer is not a romantic comedy, at least not in the conventional sense.  As the narration informs us from the get-go, “this is not a love story”, and it acknowledges that every romance isn’t “happily ever after”.  Using a non-linear narrative structure, it’s a deconstruction of the beginning, middle, and end of a relationship that follows its protagonist, not always in chronological order, as he runs the gamut from exhilarated joy to crushing heartbreak, and all the little moments in between.  In a way, it’s not about the boy getting the girl, but the boy learning to get over the girl and living his life instead of desperately clinging to a relationship that may not have ever been as compatible as he thought it was.  That 500 Days of Summer manages to do all this without being a total downer is a tribute to the smart and witty screenplay by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, the sophisticated and visually inventive direction by first-time filmmaker Marc Webb, and the charm of star Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  Despite the inherent bittersweet poignancy of the premise, this is–for the most part–a breezy, entertaining, enjoyable comedy-drama that manages in the end to be optimistic and life-affirming rather than bitter or depressing.  Among “breakup movies”, this is as “feel good” an example as you’re likely to find. Continue reading

Love Actually (2003)

DIRECTOR: Richard Curtis


Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Laura Linney,Bill Nighy, Keira Knightley, Kris Marshall, Heike Makatsch, Martin Freeman, Joanna Page,Chiwetel Ejiofor, Andrew Lincoln, Martine McCutcheon, Thomas Sangster, Lúcia Moniz, Rodrigo Santoro, Rowan Atkinson, Billy Bob Thornton


Love Actually is taglined as ‘the ultimate romantic comedy’, and while I wouldn’t go that far, it might be the most ambitious. Continue reading

Maid in Manhattan (2002)

DIRECTOR: Wayne Wang

CAST: Jennifer Lopez, Ralph Fiennes, Bob Hoskins, Stanley Tucci, Natasha Richardson, Frances Conroy, Tyler Garcia Posey


There have been innumerable versions of the Cinderella story, some conventional (the animated Disney version), some fresh, irreverent, and enjoyable (Ever After), some simply redundant, and Maid in Manhattan is surely one of the most uninspired and perfunctory of them all.  Granted, romantic comedies are rarely original, but Maid in Manhattan is such a formulaic, by-the-numbers movie with nary a spark of energy or distinction that it’s one of those most depressing movies to sit through- something completely mediocre.  Continue reading

About a Boy (2002)

DIRECTOR: Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz


Hugh Grant, Nicholas Hoult, Toni Collette, Rachel Weisz


Based on the book by Nick Hornby, produced by the producers of Bridget Jones’ Diary, and directed by the team of brothers who brought us American Pie, About A Boy is a prime example of how an approach heavy on irreverent wit and keeping the cloying sentimentality to a restrained minimum can inject enough freshness into a generic stock premise to make what could have been a bore a breezy and enjoyable viewing experience. Continue reading

My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)

DIRECTOR: Joel Zwick

CAST: Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, Lainie Kazan, Michael Constantine, Andrea Martin, Louis Mandylor, Joey Fatone


My Big Fat Greek Wedding is a bit of the little engine that could of 2002 (ultimately grossing $368 million worldwide, against a budget of only $5 million), a small indie movie and a very personal (semi autobiographical) passion project for writer and star Nia Vardalos that got financial backing with the help of producers Rita Wilson and her husband Tom Hanks.  In fact, the movie turned into a sleeper hit to the extent that it’s almost become overhyped.  My Big Fat Greek Wedding is a pleasant, unambitious concoction that goes down easily and pleasantly while remaining a trifle on the insubstantial side.  It gets the bulk of its limited mileage out of its blend of cross-cultural observational comedy and vaguely Cinderella-esque story, but even at its slim hour and a half runtime, it starts to run out of places to go before we get to the titular wedding, which is indeed big and Greek. Continue reading