Elements of a Good Romantic Comedy

romcomsWe’ve all seen those movies. You know the ones, where boy meets girl, they inevitably fall in love, and they live happily ever after. But these films aren’t the fairy tales we read when we were children, and the road can get a bit bumpy before it evens out, especially lately. Movies like 27 Dresses, Pitch Perfect, and When in Rome highlight these issues that can creep in, but they still eventually get to their happily ever after. But what are the elements of good romantic comedies? I think there are at least six of them…

  1. One of the eventual couple needs to be unlikeable at the beginning of the film. Think of Hugh Grant’s character in Two Weeks Notice — he’s a bit of a heel, but he softens as the movie progresses. And more recently Sandra Bullock’s character in The Proposal who learns that getting ahead monetarily isn’t worth sacrificing emotional attachments.
  2. There needs to be a major obstacle that seems insurmountable at some point. Remember Tom Hanks’ character whose book business crushes the little book shop of his love interest in You’ve Got Mail. Or Julia Roberts’ character as a prostitute in Pretty Woman. Sometimes the obstacle is unrequited love, but it turns into something unexpected, like in American Pie when Jason Biggs’ character comes to appreciate the girl he thought was just a friend.
  3. The characters can’t be perfect. One of the major problems in fairy tales is that usually the characters are perfect “types,” — the beautiful maiden who also happens to be innocent, the muscle-bound prince who rescues the maiden from the evil sorcerer. Too many romantic comedies also follow this blueprint and fail at it. The best ones have flawed characters, movies like Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Love Actually, and Boomerang. Continue reading “Elements of a Good Romantic Comedy”